HAMDEN — It wasn’t supposed to happen the way it did, but for Stamford, it didn’t matter.
After the original play Black Knights’ coach Diane Burns drew up broke down, Jessica Nelson took it upon herself to take the ball to the basket and scored on a layup at the buzzer as Stamford (11-2) knocked off Hamden, 40-38, Wednesday night in an interconference girls’ basketball contest at Hamden High School.
“Megan (Landsiedel) or Jess were the two options,” Burns said. “She got a chance to run out and had an opportunity to run one of our normal sets to score.”
It closed out a game that went back and forth throughout with neither team building more than a five-point lead.
“I knew it would be a fun game to begin with,” Burns said. “We competed and they competed. We just got the final shot.”
“I just happened to be open at the end,” Nelson said. “I knew I had to make a move or get the ball to someone else.”
Hamden, which had won eight of its last nine games, fell to 9-4 with the loss.
“It’s always tough to lose, but to lose like that at the buzzer is tough,” Hamden coach Amanda Forcucci said. “It was a mismatch up front, but we did a nice job recovering. They got the ball and laid it up and in.”
Stamford took an early 11-6 lead thanks to the hot shooting of Landsiedel (11 points), who canned a pair of 3-pointers.
However, the Green Dragons fought back with a 10-5 run of their own over the next 6:28 to grab a 16-15 lead.
Hamden took advantage of physical play by Stamford that led to 12 first half fouls by the Black Knights and nine free throws converted by the Green Dragons as they took a 22-20 lead at the half.
The Black Knights also went dry on the scoreboard for 2:56 as Hamden took its biggest lead of the opening 16 minutes, 22-17, with 1:33 to go until the break.
A trey by Stamford’s Carly Diamond closed it to 22-20 at intermission.
A bucket by Nelson (10 points) to open the third quarter deadlocked things at 22-22. Then Asya Brandon (game high 13 points) followed by scoring five consecutive points for Hamden, including her second long-range three-pointer of the night.
A couple minutes later, Brandon was forced out of the game for two and a half minutes with an ankle injury when she took a hard fall and landed in a heap while driving the lane. In the interim, a three-pointer by Landsiedel cut the Green Dragons lead to 30-29.
Stamford finally was able to tie things again at 34-34 on a three from the right corner by Diamond with 6:06 to play.
Neither team was able to take more than a two-point lead down the stretch. Both teams had a chance to take the lead with it tied at 38-38, but had shots blocked in the final 33 seconds.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Jessica Nelson of Stamford hit the winning layup at the buzzer.