By: Andrew Korba
ERIE, Pa. -- The Hiram College women's basketball team improved to 3-0 on the season with a 62-55 overtime win over Penn State-Behrend on Friday evening at the Penn State-Behrend Tipoff.
Hiram advances to the tournament championship and will take on either Fredonia State (N.Y.) on Saturday at 3 p.m.
Sophomore Mercedes Jones (Dayton, Ohio/Ponitz Career Technology Center) led Hiram with a game-high 27 points. Her scoring output also tied her season and career-best, which she set earlier this season on November 14 against Mt. St. Joseph.
Junior Kayla Yost (Norwalk, Ohio/Perkins) added 15 points and nine rebounds, while sophomore Allison Vannoy (Mantua, Ohio/Crestwood) added a career-high 11 points, four rebounds, four steals and three assists.
The Lions (1-1) led 37-33 entering the fourth quarter and pushed their lead to 44-38 with 6:27 left to play.
The Terriers would respond with 10 straight points, capped off by two Jones free throws, to open up a 48-44 advantage with 3:33 to play.
Hiram would open up a 51-48 lead on a layup by junior Brianne Goodrich (Chesterland, Ohio/West Geauga), but the Lions were able to knot the score at 51-51.
Both teams would come up empty on their final possessions, sending the game into overtime.
The Lions would get two free throws to open up the scoring in the overtime session, but Hiram scored the next nine points to take a 60-53 lead with 13 seconds left. The Terriers would get to the line eight times during the run, sinking seven free throw attempts to help put the game away.
A layup by sophomore Kaylee Shockley (Untiontown, Ohio/Lake) gave the Terriers the early 7-2 lead. The Lions would respond and closed the quarter on an 11-2 run to take a 13-9 lead after one quarter of play.
PSU-Behrend would open up a 25-16 lead late in the first half, but Hiram would score the final five points to cut the deficit to 25-21 heading into the break.
The Lions would open up a 29-21 lead early in the third quarter, before the Terriers scored the next 10 points to jump in front 31-29. PSU-Behrend would regain the lead and took a 37-33 lead into the final frame.
Hiram finished 18-of-58 (31.0 percent) from the field, but was 23-of-27 (85.2 percent) from the free throw line. The Lions finished 21-of-55 (38.2 percent) in shooting and was 12-of-18 (66.7 percent) from the charity stripe.
PSU-Behrend won the rebounding battle 40-36, but Hiram forced the Lions to commit 31 turnovers in the contest.