Home Local Sports Naia Pulliam keys furious fourth-quarter comeback as St. Elizabeth edges Ursuline

Naia Pulliam keys furious fourth-quarter comeback as St. Elizabeth edges Ursuline

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Naia Pulliam scored 10 points in the fourth quarter to spearhead the Vikings‘ comeback. Dialog photo/Mike Lang

WILMINGTON — The St. Elizabeth girls basketball team celebrated senior night on Feb. 22 before its matchup against Ursuline, but the mood was not festive as the second half moved along. The Vikings, ranked first in the state by Delaware Live/302Sports, overcame a 10-point deficit and held the Raiders to one point over the final 5:48 for a 36-33 comeback win.

A combination of defensive pressure from the fifth-ranked Raiders and shooting woes on the part of the Vikings resulted in St. Elizabeth facing a four-point deficit after three quarters. The hole got deeper as Lauren Dorsey, Emma Raftovich and Hannah Kelley scored on layups in the opening minutes of the fourth to push the Raiders’ lead to 32-22 with 5:48 to go.

Those three buckets extended Ursuline’s run to 12-0 covering most of the third and the first two-plus minutes of the fourth. That last field goal prompted a timeout by St. Elizabeth coach Dan Cooney, and whatever he said must have made a difference.

Naia Pulliam began the comeback with a 10-foot shot with exactly five minutes remaining. Pulliam scored the next time down the court on a follow shot of a Vikings miss, and after a steal, Rory Ciszkowski found a cutting Pulliam for another layup that made the score 32-28 with 3:55 to go.

Pulliam kept her assault going after the Raiders turned the ball over again, and the Vikings tied the score when Rory Ciszkowski put in a third-chance shot following a steal by teammate Farrah White. St. Elizabeth got the ball back, and Pulliam went to work again, dropping a 15-foot jumper with 1:39 left that gave the Vikings a 34-32 lead, their first since it was 22-20 early in the third.

Olivia Lynch extended the lead with a steal that she took the length of the court for a layup. Dorsey made a free throw to end the Vikings’ run at 14. Ursuline had a few chances to tie the score, but they were unable to get a shot up.

The frantic final five minutes ended a game that had been played at a frenetic pace and remained close all night. The Raiders’ Hannah Kelley connected after a spin move to open the scoring, and Ursuline opened an early 7-2 lead. St. Elizabeth scored the final six points of the first, with Pulliam netting four of them.

Raftovich hit a layup, and Ella Gordon swished a three-pointer to begin the second period, putting the Raiders back on top. The Ursuline led by a point until Lynch drained a mid-range jumper with less than a second to go in the half.

Pulliam finished with 21 for the Vikings, the only player to reach double figures. St. Elizabeth moved to 9-0 and closes out the regular season on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Archmere.

Kelley and Raftovich each scored 10 for Ursuline. The Raiders (8-4) host Red Lion on Thursday at 6:45 p.m. in their regular-season finale.

All photos by Mike Lang.