ERIE, Pa. – The Thiel women's basketball team relied on free-throw shooting in the final 2:25, going 9-for-10 from the charity stripe to hold off Penn State Behrend 83-76 in non-conference action on Tuesday night.
The Tomcats (1-2) registered six triples in the opening half to take an 18-point lead and went 20-for-28 from the free-throw line second stanza to earn their first the season. Jaclyn Watkins led Thiel with 24 points and 11 rebounds.
The Lions (0-3), who outscored the Tomcats 49-38 in the second half, had four players in double figures for the first time this season. Ally Burke (Erie, PA/Mercyhurst) recorded a team-best 22 points, going 13-for-14 from the line. Brittany Kiger (White Oak, PA/McKeesport) had her first double-double with 11 points and 12 boards.
After falling 45-27 in the first half, Behrend nearly doubled its offensive output to get within four points in the final minute of the contest. The Lions outscored the Tomcats 22-6 over a five-minute span to erase the double-digit lead and make it a two basket game.
Behrend shot 81 percent from the charity stripe, knocking down 23 of 27 in the second half in the comeback attempt.
With 5:25 left to play, Maggie Lawrence (Harborcreek, PA/Harbor Creek) made a pair of free throws, before Sadie Zielinski (Erie, PA/Harbor Creek) and Burke dropped a three-pointer to make it 74-63. Burke was then fouled on the way up for another triple and drained all three free throws.
Zielinski nailed her fourth trey of the night and Burke put in her final two free throws to cut the lead to 78-74 with 32 seconds left.
Thiel was also clutch from the free-throw line stay ahead of the Lions in the last seconds for the win.
Zielinski and Lawrence finished with 14 and 13 points, respectively, while Erika Woll (Erie, PA/Mercyhurst) had a team-best four assists.
Behrend returns to action on Friday against Wilmington at the Fred Raizk Memorial Tournament. Game time is 6 p.m.