— Mike Madera (@MikeMadera2) February 13, 2018
HAMDEN — Having suffered its first loss of the season just two games prior, the Mercy girls basketball team was not going to allow that to stop it from claiming the top spot in the upcoming league tournament.
Jumping out to a quick lead and never looking back, Mercy cruised to a 70-52 victory over Hamden in a Southern Connecticut Conference interdivision contest on Senior Night at Hamden High Monday evening. Mercy closed the regular season at 19-1 and secured the top seed in this week’s SCC tournament.
“We are on a collision course to play them again in the SCC and possibly the state tournament,” Mercy coach Tim Kohs said of Hamden. “They are a tough match for us. They play long. I was really concerned playing them. They have two players you could put three girls on and they would score. I like that top seed as it gives us some home games.”
While the team was successful in securing the top seed in the league tournament, Mercy also saw an individual milestone achieved. Senior Isabella Santoro scored her 1,000th career point in the fourth quarter with 2 minutes, 21 seconds remaining.
“Honestly, I could not have done it without my teammates,” Santoro said. “It means a lot to me. They have been a big part of it.”
After Hamden (16-4) got within 36-34 to start the third quarter on four straight points by Taniyah Thompson, Mercy showed why it will be the league’s top seed, going on a 12-0 run to pull away for good.
Santoro scored four points in the run, and Kameryn King and Jessica Carroll sandwiched the streak with 3-pointers for a 48-34 advantage with 3:10 remaining in the third quarter.
“We shot the ball well tonight,” Kohs said. “We executed very well in the second half. I was pleased with the way we played offensively in the second half. Our defense was great all night. The effort was good. I thought we rebounded much better in the second half.”
When Meghan DeVille hit a 3-pointer with 20 seconds to go in the third, Mercy had a 57-41 advantage.
“It is a game of runs,” Hamden coach Amanda Forcucci said. “The opening stretch of 11-0 didn’t frighten me as it was early. That second run hurt. They scored those points off turnovers. They went down the other way and scored. They shot lights out. They are a good team. They run their sets all the way through.”
The Tigers, who shot 46 percent and were 15-of-18 from the free throw line, jumped out of the gates quickly, draining three 3-pointers before the game was two minutes old. King, Santoro, and Alexia Leon hit from the outside, setting the tone and giving the Tigers a quick nine-point lead.
Another 3-pointer by Mercy’s DeVille had Mercy in front before the Green Dragons started to chip away. Five points by Thompson to end the opening quarter got Hamden within seven to start the second quarter.
When Thompson drained a 3-pointer to open the second quarter, Hamden was within four points. The Tigers went on a 7-0 run, capped with a basket by Vienna Knox for a 25-14 advantage, but Hamden again fought back with a 7-0 run of its own, highlighted by Makaela Johnson’s 3-pointer to get within four.
Thompson drained a 3-pointer and Johnson connected from the field with 36 seconds remaining in the opening half to get Hamden within 32-30.
Santoro led Mercy with 23 points, while DeVille had 13 points, and Samantha Chapps finished with 10.
Thompson led Hamden with 32 points. Johnson added nine points, and Rebecca Oberman-Levine finished with seven in the loss.