DALLAS – The last King's bucket hadn't even been announced and Celia Rader already had her hands on the inbounds pass. Steal. Shot. Good. It took about two seconds for the King's senior to convert the turnover into points. It was the highlight of a two-minute stretch that saw the Lady Monarchs take over late in the first half.
Second half, same story.
King's used matching runs near the eight-minute mark of each half to take down host Misericordia 74-61 Wednesday at the Anderson Center. It was the ninth straight win for the Lady Monarchs.
Ultimately we kept our poise and just sort of methodically pulled away, King's coach Brian Donoghue said. We've got the two best guards in the league. And when the two best guards in the league are gonna play like that, you're gonna win a lot of games.
Donoghue's starting backcourt combined for 45 points. Katlin Michaels scored a career-high 28, tying the single-game school record for made free throws (14) and breaking the mark for attempts (26) in the process. Fellow senior Celia Rader had 17 points.
With the win, King's avenged two losses to the Cougars last season, including one in the Freedom Conference title game.
Both teams ultimately made the NCAA tournament in 2011-12. King's (14-4, 6-1) is in better position to repeat the feat at the halfway point of this Freedom Conference season, notching a win against every league foe except for FDU-Florham, which sits in first place at 7-0.
Misericordia didn't make it easy for the Lady Monarchs.
King's turned a 17-14 lead into a 29-14 edge before the Cougars could regroup after halftime and tighten things up in the second.
The Cougars (9-8, 3-4) got a jolt from veterans Lauren Smicherko and Tyann McDaniel, nearly erasing what had been a 17-point deficit.
A shot off the glass by Smicherko (21 points) pulled Misericordia within 49-48 with 7:30 to play.
King's, however, never surrendered the lead. The Lady Monarchs held Misericordia scoreless for a stretch of 4:12 following Smicherko's shot.
By then, King's had built the lead back up to 10, and a three by Rader helped halt the comeback.
These two-minute mental lapses are just burying us, Misericordia coach Allison Kern said. It really is. We execute our gameplan, we get in a great place – it's a two- or four-point game – and then a mental lapse and we give up four straight O-boards.
Then it's an eight-point run and we end up having to dig ourselves out of a hole.
The Lady Monarchs finished with 22 offensive rebounds and a 44-42 edge overall.
Misericordia's Hannah Seely turned in a double-double with 12 points and 14 boards while King's Lindsay Atchison also finished in double figures with 11 points.
This senior class had never won in this building, Donoghue said. It was a running joke that either Michaels or Rader is always hurt when we play at Misericordia. … And obviously in the championship last year we lost to them on our home floor. So the team was very motivated.
We didn't win a championship tonight. We just won a really good basketball game tonight.
KING'S (74): Celia Rader 6-21 3-4 17, Molly Dahl 4-7 0-0 8, Katlin Michaels 7-17 14-26 28, Lindsay Atchison 4-9 2-4 11, Jennifer Fabian 3-7 1-2 7, Tara Zdancewicz 1-1 0-0 2, Tiffany O'Donnell 0-3 1-2 1, Jessica McHugh 0-2 0-0 0, Kyley Henry 0-0 0-0 0, Cassie Erdmann 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-67 21-38 74.
MISERICORDIA (61): Tyann McDaniel 3-9 3-4 9, Hannah Seely 4-11 4-6 12, Sam Baro 3-6 1-2 7, Lauren Smicherko 8-13 5-5 21, Nikki Baro 2-5 0-0 4, Lisa Kintner 0-0 0-2 0, Kayla Sileo 2-6 2-2 6, Caitlin Kessler 1-4 0-0 2, Kristen Hansen 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-54 15-21.
Halftime-- King's, 34-22
3-point field goals-- KC 3-22 (Rader 2-13, Atchison 1-3, Michaels 0-1, Fabian 0-1, Dahl 0-2, O'Donnell 0-2); MU 0-4 (Smicherko 0-1, McDaniel 0-3)