BY JEFF FALK
ANNVILLE – Doing the right thing when no one is looking, that’s called integrity.
Doing the right thing under duress, that’s called character. Or poise.
On Tuesday evening at Lou Sorrentino Gymnasium, Morgan Bamberger’s buzzer-beating three-pointer with 0.2 seconds remaining lifted the Lebanon Valley College women’s basketball team to an exciting 58-55 non-conference victory over York College. Though Bamberger’s trey from the top of the arc was true, it was teammate Emily Mealey who made the right play.
Out of a timeout with six seconds to play, the inbounded ball found its way to Mealey on the block. But facing a double team and with the clock running down, Mealey kicked the ball out to Bamberger, whose stroke was pure.
The final play of the game was just one of a handful of good decisions made by the Flying Dutchmen down the stretch. It also sent Lebanon Valley into the Thanksgiving break on a high note, with a 3-3 overall record.
The outcome left York College 3-4 overall. LVC now enjoys a 4-1 all-time advantage in its series with York.
“It was not the initial option,” said Lebanon Valley head coach Amy Sokaitis, of the game-winning play. “But we did a good job. Emily made the extra pass to get a good look. It was just being unselfish, which is a big deal for us.
“She made the right decision,” added Sokaitis. “She understood the clock. Just being aware was a big deal. But winning with a ‘three’ at the buzzer is always fun.”
Lebanon Valley trailed 48-39 with 7:51 to go. But the Flying Dutchmen ran off 12 of the next 14 points and took a 51-50 lead on an inside move by Mealey, with 1:52 remaining.
Daelyn Stabler’s lay-in with 56 seconds left gave LVC a 53-51 edge. But York tied the game 13 seconds later on a Kayla Ferris bucket.
“I need a pacemaker and I think my hair is graying,” said Sokaitis. “I thought we did a really good job of when we struggled to score, we kept coming up with ‘stops’.
“Defensively in the third quarter, we were fine,” continued Sokaitis. “But we couldn’t score. We went to a dribble-drive offense in the fourth.”
Mealey paced the Flying Dutchmen with 16 points and 16 boards. Bamberger drained three three-pointers and finished with 13 points, while Stabler collected 11 points.
Lebanon Valley converted 11 of its 14 foul shots.
“They’re all freshmen and they’re awesome,” said Sokaitis of the emerging Stabler, Kennedy Kuffa and Jaime Youngkin. “In general, they’re talented. They play hard. They play through their mistakes. They’re not intimidated. Those three go play ball. They’re fun to play with.
“There’s only seven of them (players), and there’s tons of chemistry,” Sokaitis added. “They got to play a ton together. Hopefully we’ll get healthy in January. But the chemistry piece is huge. They’re getting so many touches together.”
After LVC grabbed an early 8-7 edge on a lay-in from Mealey, the Flying Dutchmen went without a point for an 8:22 stretch, during which time the Spartans tallied a dozen unanswered to take a 19-8 lead. But with Amber Kintzer nailing a jumper, Youngkin converting three free thows, Bamberger draining a trey, Mealey scoring on a lay-up and Stabler knocking down a couple of foul shots, Lebanon Valley forged ahead 20-19.
LVC led 22-21 at the break, thanks to a Mealey bucket.
“Apparently, we like to do that,” said Sokaitis of the early deficit. “A lot of teams let those eight-point deficits be the end of them. We just kept playing.
“It was up and down,” Sokaitis continued. “But we did some things really well. Our offense finally looked comfortable. We got points at the rim. We got good shots. We had really good moments. We grew.”
A three-pointer from Bamberger gave Lebanon Valley a 31-28 margin four minutes into the second half. But the Spartans responded with a 15-4 run to open a 43-35 lead.
“Anytime you’re going into a break, you want to get a win,” said Sokaitis. “Going into it 3-3 is a good spot for us. I’m happy how we got here and how we’re developing.
“The timing is big,” continued Sokaitis. “We played the last game with six players. It’s as much physically draining as it is mentally. We have to gear up for the conference next week. It’s a big deal.”