NEW HAVEN >> Career’s Tanaya Atkinson had a feeling her potential game-tying fadeaway jumper in overtime would send her team’s tilt against No. 2 Mercy into a second overtime.
“It felt good,” Atkinson said. “I knew it was in. I had my finger in the air.”
She was right.
As Atkinson held up a No. 1 with her index finger, her shot splashed through the net and the No. 6 Panthers held the Tigers scoreless in the second overtime to pull out a 63-55 Southern Connecticut Conference interdivisional victory at the Floyd Little Athletic Center Wednesday.
Atkinson previously missed a layup with the chance to win the game at the end of regulation. Career coach Steve Bethke said he would never lose faith in his Temple University-bound senior.
“In those kind of situations you’ve got to ride your horse,” he said. “And she’s certainly our horse.”
With the win, Career ends the season 18-2 and clinches the second seed in the upcoming SCC tournament. Mercy drops to 19-1, but holds onto the top seed in the tournament, which begins today. Both Mercy and Career get byes. Mercy splits the season-series with Career 1-1.
“That’s a hell of a team,” said Mercy coach Tim Kohs. “People focus on scores too much. We beat them by 18, but it was like a seven- or eight-point game with five minutes left.”
The Panthers led from the outset, but the Tigers hung around. Mercy trailed by as many as 12 in the first quarter before fighting back in the second half and went into the fourth down just one point.
“We played harder in the second half,” Kohs said. “We were lucky to only be down five at the half, that was a good sign. If we played a little harder in the first half maybe it’s a different game.”
The fourth quarter was nip and tuck, with neither team getting a lead larger than one point as it featured five lead changes. Mercy point guard Kendra Landy, who finished with 16 points, went 1-for-2 at the line with a chance to put Mercy up one in the waning seconds of regulation.
Instead the game was tied at 48 when Atkinson received a full court pass from Brooklin Davis and missed the potential game-winning layup to send the game to overtime.
Mercy held the largest lead of the overtime period, which was two points, twice. With the score tied at 53, Landy was fouled again and this time made both at the line to put Mercy up 55-53. Career got it back with seven seconds left, Atkinson, who finished with 24 points, worked on her defender and drained the shot as time expired. Charleese Smith, who had 11 points, said the shot was the jolt the Panthers needed.
“That gave us more momentum to play our hardest,” she said. The Panthers went on an 8-0 double overtime run to finish it off.
CAREER 63, MERCY 55
(at New Haven)
Mercy 7 18 17 6 7 0 — 55
Career 11 19 13 5 7 8 — 63
Kendra Landy 4 8-10 16, Maura Fitzpatrick 4 2-7 11, Taylor Fascione 0 0-0 0, Morgan Cahill 0 2-4 2, Sarah Gallo 2 1-2 5, Destine Perry 4 4-5 12, Hannah Coleman 1 0-0 2, Alexis Brown 3 1-2 7. Totals: 18 18-30 55
Tanaya Atkinson 10 4-5 24, Charleese Smith 4 3-5 11, Brooklin Davis 3 2-2 8, Dejah Lanier 1 0-0 3, Adrianna Dowdy 0 0-0 0, Breion Knox 4 1-4 9, Ellery Riccio 1 0-0 2, Camille Staggers 0 1-2 1, Ashley Arroyo 1 2-4 5. Totals: 24 13-22 63
3-point goals: Mercy 1 (Fitzpatrick 1); Career 2 (Lanier 1, Arroyo 1); Records: Mercy 19-1; Career 18-2