KEUKA PARK, N.Y.— Junior Mariah Mouzon (Elmira, NY/Elmira Free Academy) had never made a three-pointer in her three years as a member of Keuka College's women's basketball team, but that didn't stop the forward from taking aim and shooting on back-to-back possessions during Saturday's showdown with first-place SUNYIT.
Trailing 27-26 late in the first half of the showdown between second-place Keuka and the first-place Wildcats, Mouzon buried an 18-foot jump shot, then made '3s' on consecutive trips down the court. Before the half ended, Mouzon made a critical steal and knocked down another mid-range jumper as Keuka seized control with a 36-29 lead heading into halftime.
Mouzon finished with 20 points, the second-highest total in her career, and grabbed eight rebounds while sophomore Danielle Gravel (Sidney, NY/Sidney) added 11 points and four rebounds as the Storm (15-5, 13-3 North Eastern Athletic Conference) completed the regular-season sweep of SUNYIT (17-4, 11-2 NEAC) 62-60 inside the Weed Physical Arts Center.
Sophomore Casey Chamberlain (Perry, NY/Perry) added a game-high 11 rebounds as Keuka enjoyed a 47-40 edge on the glass against SUNYIT.
"Those were my first two three-pointers ever, I was wide open and I do take some in practice so I guess practice helps. I just shot it and they went in," a humble Mouzon said afterwards.
"It was huge for us and for our team. That provided everyone with a lift. You heard the crowd going crazy as it happened, and when our crowd gets into it, our bench gets into it and everyone gets into it; it's great."
Donning custom-made pink Keuka jerseys in an effort to raise awareness of breast cancer research, Gravel hit a '3' and made a layup, sophomore Taylor Szwec (Candor, NY/Candor) hit a layup and classmate Jessica Bandrowski (Center Moriches, NY/Center Moriches) swished a pair of free throws as Keuka started fast, leading 9-2 just three minutes in.
The Storm advantage swelled to as many as eight, 14-6, before SUNYIT responded with a 17-7 run to take a 23-21 lead with 6:42 remaining in the opening half. Gravel scored all 11 of her points in the first half.
Mouzon made another jumper early in the second to push the lead to 38-29, and the Storm maintained a comfortable lead for most of the second half, including 51-40 on a layup from senior Morgan Engelbert (Elmira, NY/Thomas Edison) with 11:43 to play. SUNYIT used a 7-0 run to claw within 51-47.
Freshman Erica Pendrak (Utica, NY/New York Mills) made a pair of free throws with 1:21 remaining to put Keuka up 59-51 before SUNYIT went on a 9-2 run to pull within 61-60 with 12 seconds left.
Pendrak made 1 of 2 free throws to push the lead to two, and SUNYIT missed its final two shots as Keuka picked up its seventh NEAC win in its last eight games.
"Getting this sweep feels really good; SUNYIT is our biggest rival so every time we beat them it always feels good," Mouzon said. "This win gives us the confidence that we can play as a team, work the ball and share it with everybody."
Kayla McNeil scored 17 points with eight rebounds while Abbey Hanehan added 14 points and seven rebounds for the Wildcats. Lyndsey Brognano, who entered the game as the NEAC's leading scorer with 17.8 points per game, was tightly guarded by Bandrowski and finished with just 10 points
The Storm returns to action with a 3 p.m. NEAC game against Wells College on Saturday, Feb. 18, the regular-season finale for Keuka.
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