Utica – Utica Notre Dame’s girls basketball team hoped to give coach Olivia Tooley a win in her debut leading the Jugglers Monday night against Cazenovia.
The Lakers had other plans.
Led by the intimidating presence of 6-foot-2 junior Danielle Tedesco, coach Kristen Romagnoli’s team posted a hard-fought 42-40 victory.
“She was a great finisher tonight,” Romagnoli said of Tedesco after the junior scored a game-high 22 points. “And our guards were able to get it to her.”
Cazenovia never trailed in the first half of the November 30 non-league opener for both teams, but UND stayed close for much of the first half despite cold shooting. Kate Sehring’s basket off a pass from Francesca Laino kept UND within four before Cazenovia ended the half with an 8-2 run. Cold shooting by the hosts also proved key during the late part of the second quarter but UND’s pressure led to some better shots in the third and Stephanie Salerno tied the game at 25-25 in the final seconds with a shot Claire Sehring set up.
Tedesco helped the Lakers regain the lead with a turnaround jumper with four seconds left in the quarter, but the Jugglers took the elad at the start of the fourth quarter as Salerno made two foul shots and followed them with a long jump shot.
Lucy Connor and Jamie Joseph had great assists on shots by Tedesco to help the Lakers regain the lead then Sarah Snyder made a long jump shot to draw UND even at 31-31. Saige Ackermann then scored on a great fastbreak for the visitors and Tedesco followed with a field goal and another fastbreak pushed Cazenovia’s lead to 37-31, forcing Tooley to call timeout.
Claire Sehring scored quickly to get UND within four points but Tedesco took a great pass from Joseph for two points then grabbed a rebound to feed Ackermann for two more points and a 41-33 lead. Claire Sehring made two foul shots and Carli Brenon assisted on a basket by Deanna Rosato to get UND within four again. But the last two minutes saw Cazenovia playing tougher defense and when UND had open shots they did not fall until Rosatio made a 3-pointer at the buzzer, and that was too little too late.
“They were great competition for us,” Romagnoli said afterward.
Tooley was understandably disappointed with the close loss.
“I didn’t think we played up to our potential,” the Little Falls native said. “It’s frustrating when you miss layup after layup, and miss foul shots. (And) it comes down to boxing out. We needed to execute better than we did (though) the second half we came out with full-court man and we created opportunities and rattled them a bit.”
Claire Sehring led UND with 14 points.
Cazenovia 7 14 6 15 – 42
Utica ND 5 6 14 15 – 40
Cazenovia (0-0, 1-0): Lauren Howard 0, Jenna Britton 2, Olivia Catania 0, Maria Stalder 0, Kaylee Cunningham 0, Morgan Maliga 0, Bella Wheeler 4, Leah Enders 0, Lucy Connor 4, Madison West 0, Olivia Weiler 0, Saige Ackermann 4, Jamie Joseph 6, Danielle Tedesco 22.
UND (0-0, 0-1): Stephanie Salerno 10, Kate Sehring 6, Julia Buffa 0, Carli Brenon 0, Lindsay Dziedzic 0, Ranjeet Kaur 0, Sarah Snyder 2, Claire Sehring 14, Francesca Laino 3, Deanna Rosato 5, Emma Sehring 0.