WILKES-BARRE — One last rebound was what it took. A 32nd and final offensive board delivered a win for the Wilkes women’s basketball team along with a bit of history.
Chelsea Smelas corralled a teammate’s missed foul shot in the final seconds to secure a 52-51 win for the Lady Colonels over rival King’s on Wednesday night at Scandlon Gymnasium.
It was Wilkes’ first win on the Lady Monarchs’ floor since 1997. Coming into the night, King’s had won 30 of the last 31 in the rivalry at any venue, with Wilkes’ previous victory coming in double-overtime at the Marts Center in 2009.
Wilkes had ended a four-game losing streak on Monday with a strong second-half rally against Penn State Hazleton, and it might have been the perfect result for the Lady Colonels.
“That gave us momentum,” Wilkes coach Chris Heery said. “We said that kind of win was probably exactly what we needed. For us to come back from 19 against a good team (Monday) helped us for today’s game.
“We were taking the ball to the glass tonight a lot more than we had.”
Chelsea Brown had a game-high nine offensive rebounds (11 total) Wednesday and came through with a handful of big plays down the stretch to give Wilkes (4-11, 1-4) its first Freedom Conference win of the season.
Brown put her team ahead for good on a fast-break bucket with 1:42 to play and forced a key turnover in the final minute to help hold off the Lady Monarchs (4-12, 0-5).
“She’s been having a great year,” King’s coach Brian Donoghue said of Brown. “We were very aware of it, but she just had a great night rebounding the ball.”
Down two, King’s was called for a travel with 20 seconds left and was forced to foul. Kayla Brahm hit the front end of a one-and-one for a 52-49 lead and what proved to be the winning point.
King’s elected to go for the quick score at the other end as Kasey Seitz drove uncontested for a layup with six seconds to go.
Wilkes missed a one-and-one at the other end, but Smelas came up with the biggest board of the night to put the game away.
Elena Stambone scored 22 and Marissa Manning had 17 to lead Wilkes and King’s, respectively. Wilkes’ Ellen Rich had a game-high 12 rebounds while King’s freshman Kayla Feairheller picked up a double-double with 13 points and 11 boards.
Wilkes had a 60-51 edge on the glass for the game.
Of course, plenty of rebounds means plenty of missed shots. Wilkes finished 17-of-70 from the floor and King’s was 19-of-68.
The teams combined to shoot 2-for-21 from behind the arc in the first half, hitting one apiece. The Lady Monarchs claimed the early lead by capitalizing at the foul line despite 17 first-half offensive rebounds from Wilkes. The Lady Colonels opened 10-of-21 from the stripe.
Wilkes quickly erased some of those memories with an 11-0 run out of the locker room after the break.
King’s called timeout to try and slow the bleeding at the the 15:38 mark, suddenly trailing 34-24.
“When Brian called that timeout, I said, ‘They’re a great team, they’re going to make their run,’ ” Heery said.
The Lady Monarchs did just that, firing back to take a 48-44 lead with 5:22 to play.
Stambone and Brown lifted Wilkes back in front for good.
“They made their run,” Heery said, “and we were just lucky enough at the end of the game to have enough gas in the tank.”
WILKES (52): Kayla Brahm 0-4 1-3 1, Elena Stambone 7-18 6-8 22, Chelsea Brown 3-15 2-7 8, Ginny Edwards 2-6 1-2 9, Ellen Rich 2-10 1-2 12, Kate Thomas 0-0 0-0 0, Chelsea Smelas 1-4 3-4 5, Missy Oertner 1-8 0-0 2, Jamie Campbell 0-2 0-0 0, Haley Mesaros 1-2 1-4 4, Brianna Smarkusky 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 17-70 15-30 52.
KING’S (51): Kasey Seitz 2-8 2-2 6, Jessica McHugh 0-6 0-0 0, Jennifer Fabian 3-8 2-4 8, Kayla Feairheller 5-22 2-2 13, Marissa Manning 6-14 3-5 17, Katie Dugan 0-2 0-0 0, Sara Krupinski 0-0 1-2 1, Tara Zdancewicz 3-8 0-0 6. Totals 19-68 10-15 51.
Halftime — King’s, 24-23
3-point field goals — WU 3-10 (Stambone 2-7, Mesaros 1-1, Oertner 0-1, Campbell 0-1); KC 3-26 (Manning 2-5, Feairheller 1-6, Dugan 0-2, Zdancewicz 0-3, Seitz 0-4, McHugh 0-6)