Pictured: Coginchaug center Jessica Berens (13) attempts to score from underneath as Morgan’s Catie Donadio (12) looks on. Donadio finished the game with 24 points and assisted on the winning basket.
By Marc Silvestrini
DURHAM — This sort of thing is getting to be a routine occurrence for Morgan senior center Leah McComiskey.
With 1.8 seconds to play and Morgan and Coginchaug locked in a 41-41 nail-biter, Morgan point guard Caitie Donadio penetrated through a pack of Lady Devils and kicked the ball out to McComiskey, who was standing by herself about 20 feet away from the basket. Before Coginchaug could get a defender out to impede her, McComiskey calmly caught the ball and squeezed off an 18-foot jumper just as the final seconds ticked off the clock.
“I didn’t really think it was going to go in, but it did,” said McComiskey, who had buried a 3-pointer from the corner 28 seconds earlier to tie the game at 41. “I was really excited to see the ball go in because Caitlyn had done such a great job getting the ball over to me.”
The win improves Morgan’s record to 5-2 overall and in the Shoreline Conference. Coginchaug drops to 3-4 on the season and 3-2 in conference play.
“I was so proud of Leah, because sometimes she is a little reluctant to shoot,” Morgan coach Caitlin Woods said. “I don’t think she realizes how natural and how perfect her shot really is.”
Woods also had praise for Donadio, who not only had assists on McComiskey game-winning basket and her game-tying 3-pointer, but scored a game-high total of 24 points.
“She really is the heart and soul of our team, she’s just a great and very tough competitor,” Woods said.
Morgan trailed by seven, at 32-25, midway through the third quarter after the Devils had scored the first eight points of the second half to erase a 25-24 Morgan lead at halftime. The 8-0 run was fueled by Kerry Turecek’s four points and two apiece by Jessica Berens and Taylor McDermott.
But Donadio triggered a 6-0 counter-surge by Morgan over the final four minutes of the quarter by hitting two buckets of her own and then setting up McComiskey for a jumper from the corner in the final minute to cut Coginchaug’s lead to 32-31 at the end of the third quarter.
Donadio opened the fourth quarter with a drive and underhand scoop that resulted in a three-point play, giving Morgan the lead at 34-32, but Turecek answered with a 3-point bomb of her own to reclaim the lead for the Lady Devils, 35-34, with 7:25 left in the game.
Coginchaug’s Molly Shields then took over, scoring six straight Coginchaug points as the Devils outscored Morgan 6-4 over the next 6 1/2 minutes to stretch their lead to three at 41-38 with 47 seconds left.
After McComiskey hit the 3-pointer that tied the game with 30 seconds left, Coginchaug called a timeout and then worked the ball in close in the waning seconds, only to miss the shot.
Morgan’s Katelyn Martin grabbed the key rebound and got the ball to Donadio, who in turn got the ball to McComiskey for the winning shot.
“They’re a real good team and they hit a couple of big shots tonight while we made a few unforced errors in the last few minutes,” Coginchaug coach Chris Watson said. “Doing some things that aren’t very smart, like shooting threes when you’re up by five with two minutes to play, really hurt us.”
Watson added that tough losses to good teams in close games can sometimes become positive learning experiences.
“We are a work in progress,” he said. “As long as we keep growing and working hard to get better, we might be able to accomplish some things towards the end of the season, when the tournaments come up.”
The two teams fought through a tight, well-played first quarter that featured nine lead changes. A free throw by Donadio and a corner jumper by McComiskey enabled the Huskies to erase a two-point Devil lead and take a 12-11 lead after the first eight minutes.
Coginchaug outscored the Huskies 9-2 over the first three minutes of the second quarter behind buckets by Maura Zettergren, Turecek and Berens and a 3-pointer by McDermott to take a 20-14 lead. From there, however, Donadio led an 11-4 Morgan run by scoring nine points, staking the Huskies to their 25-24 halftime lead.
Aside from Donadio’s 24-point explosion, McComiskey had 11 points for the Huskies. Berens and Turecek scored 12 apiece for the Devils while Shields finished with 8 points.
Morgan will host Shoreline power Cromwell Friday in Clinton in a game that will feature two of the conference’s best teams. Coginchaug, which will likely also be among the conference’s best teams by season’s end, travels to Wallingford for a non-conference game against Lyman Hall and will play unbeaten East Hampton on the road Friday.
Morgan 43, Coginchaug 41
Catie Donadio 10 3-5 24, Carley Ayer 1 0-0 2, Alyse Olcott 1 0-0 2, Leah McComiskey 5 0-0 11, Katie Martin 2 0-0 4. Totals 19 3-5 43.
Maura Zettergren 1 0-0 2, Alyssa Woodward 0 0-0 0, Jessica Berens 6 0-0 12, Raegan Moore 0 0-0 0, Taylor McDermott 3 0-0 7, Kerry Turecek 5 0-0 12, Molly Shields 3 2-2 8. Totals 18 2-2 41.
Score By Quarters
M 12 13 6 12—43
C 11 13 8 9—41
3-Pointers: M—Donadio 1, McComiskey; C—Turecek 2, McDermott 1.
Records: Morgan 5-2, Coginchaug 3-4.