CLINTON >> Morgan junior guard Tori Hopkins poured in a game-high 18 points and junior forward Jen Dawson drained a pair of huge 3-point baskets down the stretch as the Huskies snapped Cromwell’s 29-game unbeaten streak with a 54-44 Shoreline Conference victory Friday at the Morgan gymnasium.
“It’s a huge win for us,” Morgan coach Joe Grippo. “Now, hopefully we can get on a roll and show people the type of team that we’re capable of being.”
Junior center Kelsey Donaldson had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, sophomore guard Sami Ashton had 10 points and four assists, and sophomore forward Josie Sullivan had four steals and two rebounds for the Huskies (1-1).
“I thought Kelsey Donaldson and Josie Sullivan were absolutely tremendous tonight,” Grippo said. “I’m really proud of them. They had two difficult matchups. I don’t know if Josie scored but she was a big factor in the game.”
Senior forward Janelle Harrison led the Panthers with 12 points and eight rebounds before fouling out with 1:09 left in the fourth quarter. Sophomore Araya Lessard had nine points and three rebounds, while senior guard Emily Appleby had eight points, four steals and three assists for Cromwell (1-1).
The Panthers were without sophomore Emma Belcourt but freshman guard Nikki Bitinaitis provided a spark off the bench with eight points and a steal.
Morgan led 22-18 at intermission and then built a 33-23 late in the third quarter before Cromwell responded.
Bitinaitis and Lessard capped an 11-0 run by draining consecutive 3-pointers and the Panthers led 34-33 with 6:20 left to play.
“I was pleased with the mental toughness of our group to be able to stay with it and to not give up and fight back, especially against a good team like Morgan,” said Cromwell coach Kelly Maher. “The ability to do that is going to help us in the long run.”
Harrison, who picked up her fourth foul late in the third quarter, made a nifty scoop shot and a pair of free throws to give Cromwell a 42-40 lead with 2:22 left.
But Dawson buried a 3-pointer from the right wing, and after the Panthers missed a pair of free throws, Dawson received an inbounds pass and sank another clutch shot from beyond the arc, lifting Morgan to a 46-42 lead with just 1:23 remaining.
Dawson, who finished with 10 points, was limited by an ankle sprain in the Huskies’ season-opening loss against Haddam-Killingworth. She had suffered the injury during Morgan’s final preseason scrimmage and there was a question on whether she would be healthy enough to play against Cromwell.
“Honestly, the ankle looks pretty good right now compared to where it was,” said Grippo.
Hopkins and Ashton also had a pair of 3-point baskets for the Huskies.
“We took way more threes than I’d like to take,” Grippo explained. “‘But we couldn’t get to the basket. We can’t really go inside a lot on Harrison. Their defense is really aggressive and they pushed us out. We really didn’t shoot that well from three but when it mattered we made some huge ones.”
The Huskies made 8 of 11 free throws, including four from Hopkins, over the final minute.
“Down the stretch they made some big shots so credit to them,” said Maher. “You’ve got to be able to do that. It’s early and we made a lot of crucial turnovers and mental mistakes. But we’ll learn from this and move on. The end of game scenarios like this are only going to help us.”