SCRANTON, Pa. - Junior forward Makenzie Mason (Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks West) scored a game-high 17 points to lead the way, as The University of Scranton women's basketball team pulled away in the fourth quarter from visiting Juniata, taking a 63-48 victory in Landmark Conference action on Saturday inside the John Long Center.
With the win, Scranton moved to 21-2 overall and 10-2 in the Landmark Conference, as the Lady Royals (who are ranked in a tie for eighth in the WBCA Coaches' Top 25 and 12th in the d3hoops.com poll) clinched a home game in the upcoming Landmark playoffs in the victory.
Before the game, the Lady Royals honored the two senior members of their 2018-19 team - Julia Gantz (Havertown, Pa./Archbishop Carroll) and Bridgette Mann (Canadensis, Pa./Wallenpaupack), as Mann returned to the Scranton startling line-up in the win for the first time since Jan. 9 vs. Moravian.
Juniata fell to 9-14 overall and 7-5 in the Landmark with the loss.
To start the contest off, Scranton quickly went up on Juniata, opening an 11-5 lead on the Eagles with 3:44 to go in the period. Juniata, however, stayed within distance of the Lady Royals, as Scranton held a 15-12 lead entering the second.
In the second quarter, offense was tough to come by, as the Lady Royals outscored Juniata by an 11-8 margin in the frame to take a 26-20 lead into intermission. Despite Juniata making a few runs at the lead in the quarter, Scranton led throughout, taking a six-point lead into the half.
To open the second half, Juniata came within three points of the lead (30-27) with 6:52 to go in the third quarter. But, Scranton once again slammed the door on an Eagle rally quickly, as a 9-2 spurt gave the Lady Royals a 39-29 lead with 2:29 to go in the frame.
That 10-point lead held over the next two-plus minutes, as Scranton went into the fourth quarter up, 45-35, after freshman Hannah Kowalski (Clarks Summit, Pa./Abington Heights) went coast-to-coast for a lay-up that ended the frame.
In the final frame, Juniata cut the Scranton lead down to five points three times, the last coming with 6:58 to go in regulation that made it a 49-44 game. Here, the Lady Royals began a run that put the game away, that was in part ignited by sophomore Taylor Rodriguez (Wayne, N.J./Wayne Hills) who made a pair of three-pointers that gave Scranton an insurmountable 58-45 lead with 4:24 left.
From there, the Lady Royals coasted down the stretch, pulling out their 20th double-digit win of the year with the 15-point win.
Overall, Mason was solid all game in her 17-point performance, as she led the Lady Royals in scoring in a game for the ninth time on the 2018-19 season. Mason, who nailed three three-pointers in the win, also had four rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks in the win, as well.
Elsewhere, junior teammate Sofia Recupero (Whitestone, N.Y./Saint Francis Prep) finished with 14 points, while pulling down seven rebounds. Kowalski ended the afternoon with nine points on a perfect 4-of-4 shooting day, while Rodriguez ended with eight points.
Juniata was led in the loss by Kaeana Robers, who had 14 points. But, it was once again a strong day for the Lady Royals defense, as they held an opponent to under 50 points for the 14th time on the season. Scranton also held Juniata to just 35.8 percent shooting from the floor, and forced 17 turnovers in the victory, as well.
The University of Scranton women's basketball team returns to action on Wednesday, as they host Drew in their final home regular season game of the year inside the Long Center. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.