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Padua defense is key in victory over Pennsylavnia Pandas

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For The Dialog

WILMINGTON – Eighth-ranked Padua put up a great defensive effort, and Michelle Kozicki led the way on offense as the Pandas defeated Archbishop Prendergast (Pa.), 49-44, on Jan. 27. It was a signature win for a young Pandas team in a bounce-back season.

(The Dialog/Jason Winchell)

The Pandas played a solid opening quarter as Bella Julian hit a three-pointer, and Kozicki scored on a couple of offensive putbacks as they took the 12-6 lead. Padua’s defense was forcing the Prendie Pandas’ offense into tough shots and turnovers. The Padua Pandas got four made free throws by Kozicki in the second quarter, including the last three points, to lead, 19-16, at intermission.

The Pandas continued to take the ball strong to the hole in the third quarter. Kozicki made eight free throws in the quarter, and she also scored inside on back-to-back possessions to keep the Pandas in front, 34-26, after three quarters. The hosts scored on their first two possessions to take a 38-26 lead with 6:15 left. That is when Prendie took over and went on a 16-4 run to tie it at 42 with 1:45 left. The Pandas would take the lead on a basket by Camryn Scully and another basket by Kozicki to lead 46-42. Archbishop Prendergast hit a pair of free throws with 15.3 seconds left to cut it to two points, but Kozicki made three more free throws to seal the win.

The Pandas (10-4) held Prendie 14 points below their season average in the win. The box score was unavailable late Saturday night, but, unofficially, Kozicki led the Pandas with 24 points. She also had a monstrous game on the boards. Padua travels two blocks to face rival Ursuline on Monday for a 7:15 p.m. tip. Prendie fell to 11-8 on the season.