Porter, Fancher Lead the Way for CNU Women's Hoops in Comeback Win at Penn State Harrisburg, 78-75

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MIDDLETOWN, Pa. -- After a 16-0 run in the third quarter lifted Penn State Harrisburg to a double-digit lead, the nationally-ranked Christopher Newport women's basketball team mounted a thrilling come-from-behind finish in the fourth quarter en route to their tenth straight victory, 78-75. The Captains (21-2, 15-1) leaned on a career-high 22 points from senior Makenzie Fancher and a stellar fourth quarter from senior Sam Porter, who finished with 21 points, in the win. 

Playing in front of a Senior Day crowd at the Capital Union Building in Middletown, Pa., the home team gave the nationally-ranked Captains their best shot before suffering the three-point loss, falling to 6-17 overall and 1-15 in league action. Seniors Tessa Dolce and Janel Brown each posted double-doubles after being honored in the pregame ceremony. 

The Captains faced one of their stiffest tests of the season in the conference road game, trailing with less than five minutes to go for just the third time this season and finishing within a three-point final margin for just the second time this year. Penn State Harrisburg led by 16, 55-39, after a huge surge late in the third quarter, holding the Captains scoreless for over three and a half minutes while building a 16-0 run. With the game locked at 39, the Lions caught fire and looked to pull away from CNU. 

Then, in the final minute of the third quarter, Fancher hit what would be her fifth and sixth three-pointers in the game to cut the lead to 10 headed into the final quarter, 55-45. The Lions responded each time the Captains threatened in the first five minutes of the fourth, and still led by ten after a three-pointer by Shanique Mattis pushed it to 68-58 with 4:30 remaining. Porter then kicked off a 12-3 run over the span of 3:28 of game time as CNU erased the Lions' lead. 

Porter, Bailey Dufrene, and Zhara Tannor combined for the first nine points in the run, pulling within five with just over a minute left to play. After a missed layup by the Lions, CNU went to the hot hand of Makenzie Fancher one more time with 54 seconds showing on the clock. Fancher buried her career-high seventh triple of the game to make the score 71-69, nearly capping the extraordinary comeback.

After a timeout, Mattis turned the ball over as Tannor picked up a huge steal and raced to the basket for a fast-break layup to tie the game at 71. Mattis quickly answered for the Lions to pull ahead, 73-71, but on the next possession Tannor was fouled and converted both free throws to tie the game again. For a second consecutive possession, Mattis answered to pull the Lions ahead with less than thirty seconds remaining, but again Tannor went straight to the basket on the CNU end. This time, her layup attempt missed, but sophomore Micah Maloney cleaned up the offensive glass for the stick back to tie the game with 13 seconds remaining. 

With a chance to hold for the final shot, Penn State Harrisburg committed a costly turnover as Fancher ripped the ball from Mattis. On the other end, Maloney knocked down both free-throw attempts to give the Captains their first lead since the 6:56 mark of the third quarter when it was 35-34. Penn State Harrisburg still had a chance with the ball, but again Mattis turned the ball over as Sam Porter grabbed her sixth theft of the night to lock up the victory for CNU. 

Needing all 40 minutes to capture the team's 10th straight victory, the Captains finished strong with an impressive performance from the free-throw line (19-24) and a dominant fourth quarter flurry. CNU outscored the home team, 33-20, in the final 10 minutes while shooting 52.9% (9-17) in the frame. Porter scored 13 of her 21 points in the final quarter while going 4-for-6 from the field and a perfect 5-for-5 from the free-throw line. 

Penn State Harrisburg shot nearly 56% from the floor (29-52) and over 52% from three-point land (10-19) to hang with the Captains in the contest. Porter's effort moved her into sole possession all-time in career steals, with 298, as she finished the game with 21 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 steals. 

Other individual standouts included Fancher's career-high 22 points on 7-of-14 shooting (7-of-10 from three), which marked the first time since 2013 a player has knocked down at least seven three's in a game. Tannor finished with 8 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, and 3 steals in a strong alll-around performance, while Maloney managed an 8 point, 7 rebound performance up front. 

The Captains will look to put this close contest behind them as they turn focus to their final road game of the season in another pivotal CAC matchup on Wednesday, February 14 at Mary Washington. Tip is set for 6:00 pm.