North Andover, Mass. - The Merrimack women's basketball team lost a heartbreaker at the buzzer on Saturday afternoon to the Assumption Greyhounds, 69-68. The Warriors held the one point advantage with nine seconds to go in the game before Gabrielle Gibson drove to the bucket and scored with under a second to go, to give the Greyhounds the victory. The loss drops Merrimack's record to 3-16 overall and 2-13 in the Northeast-10.
"We are playing better each and every game," said head coach Monique LeBlanc. "We are not picking up victories but I feel as though we are peaking at the right time, down the home stretch of our season. I am really proud of our players for continuing to work and improve each and every day."
Kelly Schatzlein (Tolland, CT) led all scorers in the game with 25 points and also grabbed six rebounds for the Warriors. Valerie Avebe (Yaounde, Cameroon) played well starting her first game of the season as she racked up her first double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds in the defeat.
Schatzlein opened up the game for the Warriors scoring seven of the first eight points, as Merrimack took the lead 8-6 with 15:04 remaining in the opening half.
The Greyhounds would go on a 7-0 run over the next four minutes to take the 13-8 lead before Avebe ended that run with a layup off of a great individual effort.
The Greyhounds extended their lead to the biggest of the game with 7:42 remaining in the opening half as Gibson made a layup in transition after a steal, making the score 27-14. The Warriors would respond quickly with an 8-0 run of their own as Gennifer Roy (Granby, Mass.) and Katie Ganser (Needham, Mass.) both scored four points during the run.
The Greyhounds would extend their lead to nine after back-to-back Sabrina Siciliano layups, making the score 31-22. With 39 seconds remaining in the opening half Roy would drain a straight away three point jumper to cut Merrimack's halftime deficit to six, 33-27.
Merrimack finished the opening half shooting 41.7 percent from the field and 6-9 from the free throw line. The Greyhounds were held to 36.8 percent from the field and only got to the free throw line four times.
Schatzlein finished the first half with 11 points on 4-7 from the field to lead the Warriors while Sabrina Siciliano led Assumption with 10 points and six rebounds.
Assumption opened up the second half with consecutive three pointers, to increase their lead to 12, 39-27. Schatzlein would put that run to an end as she scored on an easy layup off of a Ganser pass. Schatzlein would score the first seven Warrior points in the second half, making the score 43-34 with 14:13 to go in the game.
The two teams would trade buckets over the next two minutes as Roy sank a wide open jumper after a Chloe Rothman (Newton, Mass.) pass, making the score 52-43.
Avebe would make four free throws and a layup over the next minute to make the score 58-54 in favor of Assumption.
With 3:50 remaining in the game Rothman would drain a contested three pointer, to cut the Merrimack deficit to one, 62-61. On the next Merrimack possession Avebe would get free down low for a layup, giving the Warriors their first lead of the second half with 2:42 to play.
The Greyhounds tied the game 66-66 with just over a minute to go, as Kelly Meredith got open for a contested layup. Schatzlein would respond quickly with a layup of her own with seven seconds remaining in the game, giving the Warriors the lead, 68-67.
With seven seconds remaining in the contest and a one point deficit facing her, Gabrielle Gibson would take the inbound pass, go the length of the court and score on a scoop shot with under a second to go, give the Greyhounds the 69-68 victory.
The Warriors shot a better percentage from the field then their opponents, shooting 50 percent, compared to the Greyhounds 39.7 percent. Merrimack also won the battle inside the paint as they outscored Assumption 34-32 for the afternoon. Assumption turned 16 Merrimack turnovers into 17 points on the other end and turned 15 offensive rebounds into 13 points.
Three Warrior players scored in double figures on Saturday afternoon in the loss. Schatzlein led the way with 25, while Roy chipped in with 18 of her own on 6-9 from the field and 4-5 from the free throw line. Avebe contributed with her first double-double, scoring 13 and grabbing 10 boards. Rothman had a quiet night offensively scoring only six points but found her open teammates all afternoon, racking up a career-high 11 assists.
The Greyhounds were given solid play by most of their team as six players scored eight or more points on the afternoon. Siciliano led the way as she recorded a double-double, scoring 14 points and grabbing a game-high 13 rebounds. Gibson scored a team-high 14 points, including the game winning layup as time expired.
The Warriors hit the road on Tuesday for a conference game against first-place Bentley. Tip is set for 5:30 pm on Tuesday night.