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Padua ends long basketball drought against Ursuline as Michelle Kozicki goes for 29

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Michelle Kozicki, who scored 29 points for Padua, goes up over Ursuline's Kaleigh White (13) for a shot. (Dialog photo/Jason Winchell)

WILMINGTON — Michelle Kozicki continued her stellar season with another standout performance on Feb. 8. Padua’s senior forward scored 29 points to lead the sixth-ranked Pandas to a 56-51 win over No. 10 Ursuline at the 76ers Fieldhouse as part of the SL24 Memorial Basketball Classic. It was the Pandas’ first win over their rival since 2006.

The game started with a 6-0 Kozicki run as the Pandas jumped out to the lead. But the Raiders’ Emily Rzucidlo took over after that, leading a 10-4 run, knocking down a pair of free throws and two long-distance three-point shots to give the Raiders a 12-10 lead. Emma Raftovich scored with less than 10 seconds left in the first to make it 17-14 Raiders after one. Kozicki had 12 of the Pandas’ total.

Emily Rzucidlo of Ursuline sends a pass past the outstretched arm of Padua’s Brooke Emmi to Hannah Kelley. (Dialog photo/Jason Winchell)

In the second quarter, she would get some help from Brooke Emmi, who followed her own missed free throw, then added another basket on a fast break to push Padua to a 24-22 lead. Kozicki completed an old-fashioned three-point play, and Emmi scored again, and it was 31-29 Pandas at intermission. Rzucidlo and Hannah Kelley accounted for all 12 of Ursuline’s points in the quarter, with Kelley getting seven.

The third quarter included the Pandas’ only three-pointer of the afternoon, and it was a deep one from Emmi. The Raiders tied the game, however, at 38 on a basket by Kaleigh White, but the Pandas took the lead for good when Kozicki raced past Ursuline’s pressure defense for another three-point play. Padua added five free throws – four from Kozicki, one from Skylar Salvo – before the third quarter ended and held a 46-41 advantage.

The Pandas extended the lead to 10 by scoring the first five points of the final stanza on field goals from Kozicki and Emmi. The Raiders finally found their range, with Rzucidlo and Kelley each nailing long threes as part of an eight-point run that cut the Padua lead to two with 3:53 to go. But the Raiders would score just two more points, and the Pandas made five free throws down the stretch to close it out.

Emmi had 15 for Padua, who improved to 11-5. They have 10 days off before traveling to St. Elizabeth on Feb. 18 for a 7:15 p.m. tip.

Making her first appearance for the varsity this season was freshman Patricia Locke, the sister of Sean Locke, in whose memory the classic is played. She wore No. 24, just as her brother did.

The Raiders (6-0) got 18 points from Rzucidlo, 12 from Kelley and 11 from White. They travel to No. 1 Sanford on Wednesday at 6 p.m.