Misericordia’s Christine Marks shoots over Wilkes’ Brittany Ely.AIMEE DILGER Photos/The Times Leader
WILKES-BARRE – Out went Wilkes’ leading scorer. Out went the Lady Colonels’ momentum with her.
With Lindsey Gosse on the bench, Misericordia took full advantage, pulling away for a 67-54 win in the Freedom Conference opener for both teams on Wednesday night at the Marts Center.
Wilkes (1-5, 0-1 Freedom) had slashed an 11-point second-half deficit down to 46-41 after Gosse, the 6-foot-1 center, hit a pair of free throws. But the sophomore fouled out shortly thereafter, picking up her fifth foul with 11:18 left to play.
The Cougars answered with an 11-2 run immediately afterward to take control of the game.
While Gosse wasn’t a significant factor on offense for Wilkes on the night, finishing with just four points off the bench, the Lady Colonels fell out of sync at both ends of the court without her.
“There were some tough calls, but those nights are going to happen,” Wilkes coach Rachel Hartung Emmerthal said. “Those nights are going to happen and we need people to pick up the slack when she does go out.”
Misericordia coach Tom Griffith said some halftime tinkering on offense made the difference for the Cougars (4-2, 1-0).
“I thought what was important in the second half was that we made an adjustment to our zone offense,” Griffith said. “And we got some easy baskets and we got some three-point shots that were wide open. We kind of forced them to go man-to-man, and when they did – our man-to-man offense is pretty good. And we got some layups out of that.
“The adjustment was really what was the key to the whole second half.”
Benefiting most was the Cougars’ top post player, sophomore Christine Marks, who scored 13 second-half points and finished with a team-high 15 after going 0-for-3 from the floor in the opening 20 minutes.
Marks picked up a double-double with 13 rebounds, dominating the paint against a smaller Wilkes lineup late in the game.
“She’s incredibly athletic,” Griffith said. “She has a true vertical jump, which is not always the case in women’s basketball. Her athleticism allows her to get some rebounds that, quite frankly, she probably shouldn’t get.”
Freshman guard Tyann McDaniel chipped in 14 points, hitting on four three-pointers, while Jesse Robinson added 13. Courtney Sykes just missed a double-double of her own with nine points and 10 boards.
After trailing 29-24 at halftime, Wilkes was kept alive early in the second half by freshman guard Megan Kazmerski, who picked up nine of the Lady Colonels’ first 11 points. The rookie from Holy Redeemer led all scorers with 18 points and picked up seven rebounds to lead her squad.
Sam Lynam scored 13 off the bench for the Lady Colonels, who shot 44 percent from the floor in the first half before dipping to 30 percent in the second.
Misericordia players had a familiar face awaiting them in the pregame introductions. Courtney Sykes, a two-year starter at point guard for the Cougars, was on the other bench as a graduate assistant for Wilkes.
Sykes, who started 25 games last season for Misericordia, greeted each of the Cougars’ starting five at midcourt as they were announced – including her sister Courtney, now a junior.
Though it was the Freedom Conference debut at home for Lindsey Sykes, the lone sign in the crowd for the game read, “Once a Cougar, always a Cougar.”