MADISON >> Hand junior Gabby Egidio has a thousand-watt smile that lights up gyms all over the Southern Connecticut Conference. But don’t let it fool you. If there is a loose ball, Egidio is going to be on the floor scrambling for it every time. Her energy and fearless style of play appears to be contagious. And it helped the ninth-ranked Tigers girls basketball team beat Mercy for the second time this season Monday night in Madison.
“We’ve never done it before,” Hand coach Tim Tredwell said. “Beating them twice in the regular season is incredible. I don’t even want to think about seeing them again in the playoffs.”
Egidio paced Hand with a game-high 15 points, along with those game-high floor burns, and junior guard Emma Sullivan and freshman guard Sara Wohlgemuth each netted 10 points in the Tigers’ impressive 55-44 victory.
“They play harder than us at every position,” Mercy coach Tim Kohs said. “We got out-toughed and out-hustled. Any loose ball they came up with. They’re a very good team. They’re talented, don’t get me wrong, but they get more out of their ability because they compete every possession like every play wins them the game.”
The Tigers (11-2), who moved into the Register/GameTimeCT Top 10 poll this week, have now beaten Mercy three straight times. There was a season-opening win in Middletown and, of course, last year’s stunning win in the SCC championship game.
“I love these kids,” Tredwell said. “Their energy and effort is off the charts. And that’s the way it is all the time.”
Junior guard Bella Santoro scored 12 points, while Samantha Chapps, Meghan DeVille, and Keri Kernisan each had nine points for Mercy (10-3).
Hand, which built a 24-21 lead at halftime, never trailed in the second half.
Sullivan’s corner trey gave Hand a 40-30 cushion early in the fourth quarter. No. 6 Mercy, which committed numerous turnovers in the second half, closed the gap to 42-38 on Santoro’s conventional three-point play and sophomore Kameryn King’s 3-point basket with 5:05 remaining.
“You never have a feel good moment against Hand,” Kohs said. “I believe the harder you play the bounces go your way and every bounce went their way.”
Hand put on a clinic down the stretch. Wohlgemuth converted a nifty left-handed layup off the glass and Egidio sliced through the Tigers defense for a layup to make it 46-38.
“Our team played so well together,” Egidio said. “We really have great team chemistry. We’re scrappy and so unselfish.”
Kernisan drained a 3-pointer and Mercy was within striking distance at 51-44. But Egidio buried a short baseline jumper and fed Sullivan underneath for a layup and a 55-44 lead with 1:14 to go.
“I’m really happy to be a part of this team,” Egidio added. “Everyone is friends and we all get along and I think that’s the most important factor for us.”