NORTH ADAMS -- When her team needed her the most, Lee’s Stephanie Young was there. She launched a buzzer-beating 3-pointer on Thursday to push Lee past Drury in the opening round of the Gene Wein Tournament, 38-35.
Young and the rest of her Wildcat teammates struggled for much of the night to break the Blue Devils zone defense, but the senior was able to get free in the fourth quarter.
"I was looking at the scoreboard and realizing it was a tie game or we were losing and I knew I had to pick it up," Young said. "I knew I had more to give."
She scored 13 of her game-high 27 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Wildcats.
The shot completed a game-long comeback for Lee.
The Wildcats found themselves down by 11 points at the end of the first quarter but fought back to tie the game at halftime. They took their first lead early in the third quarter, but never led by more than four points.
The comeback was a product of forcing the Blue Devils into turnovers. Drury gave the ball to the Wildcats 25 times in the contest.
"That shot is magnified because it was a tied game at the end," Drury coach John Franzoni said. "But really all those possessions that we didn’t even get a shot off on is what won the game for them, or lost the game in our case."
Because of all the turnovers, the Blue Devils were forced to play solid defense all game long. Ali Tatro and Danielle Racette combined for several steals in the defensive end. Shannon Garvey had six rebounds for Drury and Tatro added five.
The Blue Devils were also able to avoid foul trouble. They sent the Wildcats to the free-throw line just eight times. Lee turned just three of those free chances into points.
"We played good defense the whole game," Tatro said. "We all have things we could work on and get better at, but really she made a good shot at the end."
The Blue Devils trailed with four minutes to play, but crawled back into the game. Megan Benoit was filling in for Morgan Lamarre who is out with a concussion, and Benoit hit a long-range shot with just over 2 minutes to play to tie the game. Tatro then earned a trip to the free-throw line and hit both shots to give her team the lead.
Young tied the game with 45 seconds to play.
"[Drury] is a great team and they played a great defense," Lee coach Gig Wellington said. "They were tossing the zone in and just kept backing it in on us.
"We got ourselves back into the game and then it was just more or less who was going to be the last person standing."
Drury had a chance to take the last shot, but the opportunity fell short with 12 seconds to play.
"I thought we had great possessions at the end of the game," Franzoni said. "Megan hit the shot to tie it and Ali got fouled and made those big free throws. It looked like things were in our favor, but we couldn’t get that last big shot."
Young’s first attempt at the game winner bounced off the rim, but Eileen Dooley got the offensive rebound and kicked it out to Young for another shot at the winner -- one she didn’t miss.
The Wildcats now advance to the championship game of the tournament to play Lenox. Lenox defeated Greylock 59-40 in the first game of the tournament. The Blue Devils will play the Mounties in the consolation game.
"We just have to come back and show that we can keep playing," Tatro said. "One loss doesn’t mean anything. We can be better than that and we are better than that."
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