Playoff picture dims for Shore basketball

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — A protracted losing spell of six of the last seven games has the Shore ladies looking for some help if they are going to gain a playoff berth.

With three weeks remaining in the regular season, Washington is eighth in the 11-school Centennial Conference after Saturday’s 12-point loss at Muhlenberg.

Only six teams will advance to the CC tournament that begins Feb. 20.

Muhlenberg (11-8 overall) improved its playoff chances with Saturday’s 66-54 victory, moving into a tie for sixth in the conference with McDaniel — each with 6-8 marks in Centennial play.

The Mules avenged a 46-41 loss in Chestertown on Jan. 6.

Muhlenberg and Washington (8-10, 5-8 CC) each had 20 made field goals, but the difference was Muhlenberg’s 13 buckets made from outside the 3-point arc compared to just three for Washington.

All 15 of the Mules’ third-quarter points came via the long ball.

Junior Ava Connolly scored a career high of 27 points, including 5-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc, to lead three Muhlenberg players in double figures. Rachel Paxton and Emily Unger, also juniors, contributed 15 and 12 points, respectively.

Washington also had three players in double digits, led by senior Serena Pluta’s double-double of 17 points and game-best 13 rebounds.

Kaitlyn Boggs also had a double double of 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Abby Meredith added 10 points.

Washington led for the last time at 23-22 on Pluta’s jumper with 2 minutes, 13 seconds remaining in the second quarter.

The home team scored the next eight points, sparked by back-to-back threes from Avery McNulty and Unger, to take a 30-23 lead with 36 seconds remaining on a layup by Unger.  

The spread at halftime was 31-26.

Washington closed to within a point, 31-30, on a Pluta jumper with 1:34 elapsed in the third quarter, but Muhlenberg went on a 15-6 run — started by a Connolly three and capped by a Saxton three — to build its first double-digit lead of the afternoon at 46-36 with 13 seconds remaining in the quarter.

A Meredith three with just over six minutes remaining reduced the deficit to 52-47 and Washington was looking to get even closer after Connolly misfired on the ensuing possession. But Megan Winters hustled to keep the ball from going out of bounds under the basket and flung the ball back to Saxton, who banked in a three as the shot clock buzzer sounded for the dagger.

Washington went 0-2 during the week, unable to overcome a 17-point halftime deficit at home Thursday night, Jan. 25 against conference foe Swarthmore.

The locals had a tremendous second half, scoring 19 of the first 26 points, but couldn’t keep it up down the stretch and ultimately were defeated, 58-49.

The Garnet (9-10, 7-7) never trailed after Alyssa Hayashi’s three-point play just 26 seconds underway.

In the first frame, Washington attempted just seven field goals, turned the ball over nine times and scored only one point over the final 4:50.

The spread was 15 points after one quarter, 21-6, and 17 at intermission, 32-15.

Washington scored the first eight points of the second half to get the deficit to single digits, 32-23, on a a Boggs layup with 6:23 to play in the third quarter.

Boggs scored six of her 10 points in the third quarter to help Washington get to within 39-34 with 10 minutes remaining.

Pluta twice made it a one-possession game, the second time at 47-45 with 4:47 remaining on a three-point play, but Hayashi and Dana Bandurick combined on a run of five unanswered points to push the lead back out to seven, 52-45, with just over two minutes remaining.

Washington trailed by only three, 52-49, on a Pluta free throw with 1:09 to go, before Swarthmore salted away the win with a 6-0 run to close out the scoring.

Pluta led all players with 18 points and collared 10 rebounds.

Boggs also had a double double of 10 and 10.

Peyton Berger scored seven points in 15 minutes off the bench, and Emma Robinson (seven rebounds) and Karry Kelliher each contributed six points.

Carly Murphy with 14 points led three Garnet players in double digits; Bandurick contributed 12 points and nine rebounds, while Hayashi totaled 10 points and five rebounds.

Swarthmore outscored the home team in bench points, 22-9, led by Murphy.

Washington’s next home game is 6 p.m. Jan. 31 against Haverford.

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