Home Local Sports Late free throws from Naia Pulliam lift St. Elizabeth to Diamond State...

Late free throws from Naia Pulliam lift St. Elizabeth to Diamond State Classic win

Anais Levasseur of Seminaire Saint-Francois gets a screen from a teammate while the Vikings' Farrah White defends. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

WILMINGTON — After a frustrating game on Sunday in the Diamond State Classic, the St. Elizabeth girls basketball team needed a confidence boost and a win. They got both in a 45-43 victory over Seminaire Saint-Francois in the seventh-place game of the Delaware Orthopaedic Specialists Cup on the morning of Dec. 31 at the St. E Center.

The game started well for Saint-Francois, as Anais Levasseur scored just seconds into the game after taking the opening tip in for a breakaway layup. But the Vikings responded well in a game that went down to the wire.

Rory Ciszkowski of St. Elizabeth battles Lily-Rose Chatila of Seminaire Saint-Francois in their Diamond State Classic matchup. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

Julie McCarron tied the game for St. Elizabeth, and the teams went back and forth from there. Levasseur scored the first six points during the quarter, but the Vikings maintained had an 11-10 lead as the quarter neared its end. Kayla Couturier put the Blizzard ahead by two when she hit a deep three-pointer as time expired.

The balanced scoring continued into the second for St. Elizabeth a day after virtually the entire team struggled to connect. Ashley Campbell banked home a short bucket, with an assist to Olivia Lynch to tie things up a half-minute into the quarter. McCarron hit from virtually the same spot 20 seconds later.

The action resembled a track meet for several minutes after that, with some free throws added, and the Vikings were able to use their trips to the line to build a 22-17 lead with about 2:45 left in the half.

The Blizzard fought back to take a one-point lead with 7.6 seconds left on the clock, but Naia Pulliam took a pass in stride in the backcourt, ran the length of the floor, stepped through two defenders and banked in a shot as time expired. St. Elizabeth had a 24-23 lead.

The teams were even in the third, with Pulliam scoring the first six of the Vikings’ nine points on three field goals: a mid-range jumper and a five-footer on consecutive possessions early on, and s driving layup a few minutes later. Alice Allard had an old-fashioned three-point play to help Saint-Francois remain close as the fourth quarter began.

A McCarron bucket put St. Elizabeth back on top by five at 37-32, but the Canadians weren’t finished. Kayla Couturier drained a three, and Levasseur tied it after taking a rebound, driving the distance and putting up a left-handed scoop off the glass.

Rory Ciszkowski restored a two-point advantage on an eight-foot runner along the baseline, but Anais Trempe answered with a runner from 12 feet. Saint-Francois took its last lead with fewer than four minutes to go on a free throw from Levasseur, but Pulliam answered with a turnaround jumper at the 2:51 mark.

Lily-Rose Chatila gave the Blizzard and their fans hope for a victory with 50 seconds left. A turnover committed by the Vikings resulted in a drive and scoop shot by Chatila high off the glass to put the visitors up, 43-42. But Pulliam played the hero, knocking down a pair of free throws with 30 seconds to go. Lynch hit one of two from the line with 6.5 on the clock, giving the Blizzard one more chance to tie. A last-second attempt to tie by Couturier bounced harmlessly off the glass, and the Vikings took the closest game of the Diamond State Classic.

Pulliam finished with 14, while McCarron had nine. The Vikings (3-4) host Archmere on Friday night at 7:15.

Seminaire Saint-Francois picked up a game-high 16 points from Couturier, while Levasseur added nine.