HAVERFORD, Pa. – Gettysburg kept knocking on the door in the second half, but each time the Bullets pulled within one possession, Haverford answered the call as the defending Centennial Conference champions held on for a 58-55 victory in the opening round of the league playoffs Tuesday night.
Haverford (16-10) beat Gettysburg (16-9) by an average of 20 points in two meetings during the regular season and the Fords appeared ready to run away from the outset of Tuesday's meeting. A trio of treys and a lay-up put the hosts up 11-2 just over two minutes into the contest.
The Bullets weathered the early storm and ran off a 9-2 run to pull to 13-11 on a jumper by junior Emily Duggan (Marmora, N.J./Ocean City) at 11:40. Haverford maintained the upper-hand for most of the opening half until a three-pointer by junior Kim Ryan (Garden City, N.Y./Garden City) put Gettysburg in front 22-21 at 4:03. The visitors would keep a one-point lead heading into the break.
Haverford grabbed the lead on its opening possession of the final stanza and never let go despite repeated pushes by Gettysburg. The Fords led by as many as seven on six separate occasions in the second half, including 37-30 on a lay-up by Samantha Wetzel at 15:10. Junior Jessica Porter (Narberth, Pa./Lower Merion) answered with five-straight points to pull her team within two.
A pair of free throws by Sierra Berkel once again put the margin at seven (53-46) with just over five minutes left in the game. Two free throws and a lay-up by senior Jenna Swope (Warminster, Pa./Archbishop) made it 53-50 with 4:07 left.
After Olivia Walsh banged home a three-pointer to push the lead back to six, Ryan knocked down her third trey of the game to set the margin right back to three. The Fords came up empty on three-straight possessions and Swope made it a one-point game with a lay-in with only 1:24 to go.
Jacquelyne Pizzuto provided arguably the best play of the game on the Fords' ensuing possession, driving down the right lane and scooping the ball into the hoop with 57 seconds left. The Bullets turned the ball over on their next possession, but Haverford was unable to capitalize. Still down by just three with less than 10 seconds to go, Swope's three-pointer from the left wing was off target and Haverford picked up the ball with only two seconds on the clock.
Gettysburg shot 18-of-42 (42.9 percent) from the floor, while Haverford canned 23-of-54 (42.6 percent) of its shots, becoming the only team to shoot over 40 percent against the Bullets this season. The Fords did most of their damage near the hoop, out-scoring Gettysburg 32-16 in the paint. Gettysburg blocked two shots in the contest and finished the season with a program record 143 blocks.
Porter finished 4-of-10 from the floor and 10-of-11 from the free throw line on the way to a game-high 18 points. She finished with 15.4 points per game this season – the best scoring average by a Bullet since Caitlin Moser '11 tallied 15.8 points per game in 2008-09.
Freshman Emily Gibbons (Annapolis, Md./Severna Park) finished with 12 points and seven rebounds, while Ryan tallied nine points and four assists. Duggan and Swope each scored seven points, the latter adding four assists and four rebounds.
Berkel tallied 17 points and eight boards to pace Haverford. Elizabeth Lynch added 13 points and five assists, while Pizzuto logged 11 points, six assists, and three steals.
Haverford advances to face host and top seed McDaniel College (22-2) in the semifinals of the conference tournament on Friday night.