The Hershey Lady Panthers went back and forth with Bridgeport on Saturday before claiming a 52-50 win over the Bulldogs on their home court.
With the game tied at eight in the first quarter, Hershey (6-5) took the lead on a basket by Dayonna Roberts. Tahlia Steinbeck then scored the next two baskets to make it a six-point lead for the Panthers.
Bridgeport (8-3) came back to tie at 20 when Mackenzie Liakos made a jump shot along the baseline on the left side just inside the three-point arc.
Hershey took a 27-22 lead after Steinbeck made a free throw. But the Bulldogs stormed ahead suddenly after three-pointers by Olivia Loomis-Goltl and Brooklyn Mohrman. Then with seven seconds left in the first half, Liakos made a free throw to give Bridgeport a 29-27 lead at halftime.
The Bulldogs continued to surge after the break. Grace Dean scored the first basket of the second half and Loomis-Goltl made a free throw. Then Ruthie Loomis-Goltl got a three-point play to make it 35-27 nearly three minutes into the second half.
The Panthers pulled to within 35-34 when Steinbeck made a free throw that followed a three by Roberts. Then with two minutes left in the third quarter, Steinbeck banked one in off the backboard to give Hershey the lead. Bridgeport then turned the ball over and Steinbeck scored again to make it a three point lead.
Hershey led 42-37 going into the fourth quarter and Steinbeck got a three-point play in the opening minute of the fourth to put the Panthers up by eight.
Bridgeport stormed back. Sydney Nein made back-to-back threes from the left corner and then Olivia Loomis-Goltl put in her own miss to tie the game a little under halfway through the fourth.
Shayda Vaughn gave Hershey the lead back by making a shot from 14 feet. Then the Bulldogs took the lead when Mohrman nailed a three. But Steinbeck came right back and buried a three of her own to put the Panthers back on top, 50-48, with 2:24 left in the game.
It remained that way for the rest of the game. Neither team scored again until there was 20 seconds left, when Steinbeck made a free throw on the front end of a one-and-one.
Steinbeck missed the following free throw she had just earned and Roberts got the offensive rebound. Roberts missed on the front end of a one-and-one and Bridgeport got the rebound. The Bulldogs brought the ball up the court and Olivia Loomis-Goltl scored inside with five seconds left.
Steinbeck was fouled and she made one of two free throws. The Bulldogs still had a chance to win at the buzzer. But Liakos fumbled the ball away out of bounds on the left side just past half-court and Hershey came away with the win.
Steinbeck, a 6’1″ sophomore, led the Panthers with 25 points. Roberts was the only other Hershey player in double figures with 10.
Next, Hershey will host Sutherland (3-6) on Tuesday.