ERIE – Gannon’s Jen Papich made a tiebreaking free throw with 40 seconds remaining Tuesday night and the Golden Knights went on to a 62-57 victory over California in a PSAC women’s basketball tournament quarterfinal game at the Hammermill Center.
Papich’s free throws gave Gannon (26-2), the No. 4-ranked team in NCAA Division II, a 58-57 lead.
California (18-9) had one opportunity in the closing seconds to take the lead and another to tie, but the Vulcans couldn’t get either shot to fall.
After Papich missed the second of two free throws, Cal freshman guard Miki Glenn missed a jump shot, which led to two free throws by Gannon’s Kelley Sundberg with 20 seconds remaining. With Cal down 60-57, the Vulcans’ Emma Mahady missed a three-pointer and Gannon tacked on two more free throws.
Mahady had a big night, scoring a game-high 22 points and helping the Vulcans erase a double-digit second-half deficit. Gannon led 38-27 with 16:24 remaining, but Mahady and Irina Kukolj (12 points) sparked Cal to a 22-9 run that netted a 49-47 lead following two free throws by Mahady with 7:48 to play.
A three-point play by Mahady gave Cal a 57-55 advantage with 1:22 left, but the Vulcans would not score again. The Golden Knights took the lead on Nettie Blake’s layup and Papich’s free throw.
Cal was ranked No. 7 in last week’s Atlantic Region ratings. The Vulcans must wait to see if they garner one of the eight spots from the region in the Division II tournament. The tournament field will be announced Sunday. Gannon is the No. 1-ranked team in the region.