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Struggles from the free throw line prove costly to Bishop Brady girls

  • Bishop Brady's Sarah Thomas guards Campbell's Hannah Fabiano during the Division III girls basketball semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 4, 2014.  Bishop Brady lost 44-38.<br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

    Bishop Brady's Sarah Thomas guards Campbell's Hannah Fabiano during the Division III girls basketball semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Bishop Brady lost 44-38.

    (ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

  • Bishop Brady's Riselly Deoleo lays up the ball during the Division III girls basketball semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 4, 2014.  Bishop Brady lost 44-38.<br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

    Bishop Brady's Riselly Deoleo lays up the ball during the Division III girls basketball semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Bishop Brady lost 44-38.

    (ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

  • Bishop Brady's Riselly Deoleo holds her head in frustration as the clock winds down during the fourth quarter of the Division III girls basketball semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 4, 2014.  Bishop Brady lost 44-38.<br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

    Bishop Brady's Riselly Deoleo holds her head in frustration as the clock winds down during the fourth quarter of the Division III girls basketball semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Bishop Brady lost 44-38.

    (ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

  • Bishop Brady's Emma Will gets a hug from friends after the Giants lost the Division III girls basketball semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 4, 2014.  Bishop Brady lost 44-38.<br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

    Bishop Brady's Emma Will gets a hug from friends after the Giants lost the Division III girls basketball semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Bishop Brady lost 44-38.

    (ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

  • Bishop Brady's Sarah Thomas smiles though the tears as friends embrace her after the Giants lost in the Division III girls basketball semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 4, 2014.  Bishop Brady lost 44-38.<br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

    Bishop Brady's Sarah Thomas smiles though the tears as friends embrace her after the Giants lost in the Division III girls basketball semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Bishop Brady lost 44-38.

    (ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

  • Bishop Brady's Sarah Thomas smiles though the tears Brianna Puleo embraces her after the Giants lost in the Division III girls basketball semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 4, 2014.  Bishop Brady lost 44-38.<br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

    Bishop Brady's Sarah Thomas smiles though the tears Brianna Puleo embraces her after the Giants lost in the Division III girls basketball semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Bishop Brady lost 44-38.

    (ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

  • Bishop Brady's Sarah Thomas guards Campbell's Hannah Fabiano during the Division III girls basketball semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 4, 2014.  Bishop Brady lost 44-38.<br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)
  • Bishop Brady's Riselly Deoleo lays up the ball during the Division III girls basketball semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 4, 2014.  Bishop Brady lost 44-38.<br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)
  • Bishop Brady's Riselly Deoleo holds her head in frustration as the clock winds down during the fourth quarter of the Division III girls basketball semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 4, 2014.  Bishop Brady lost 44-38.<br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)
  • Bishop Brady's Emma Will gets a hug from friends after the Giants lost the Division III girls basketball semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 4, 2014.  Bishop Brady lost 44-38.<br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)
  • Bishop Brady's Sarah Thomas smiles though the tears as friends embrace her after the Giants lost in the Division III girls basketball semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 4, 2014.  Bishop Brady lost 44-38.<br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)
  • Bishop Brady's Sarah Thomas smiles though the tears Brianna Puleo embraces her after the Giants lost in the Division III girls basketball semifinals at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, March 4, 2014.  Bishop Brady lost 44-38.<br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

MANCHESTER – Even as they were putting together a 16-2 regular season, winning nine straight to start it and six in a row to end it, a specter hung over the Green Giants.

“All year it really kind of haunted us,” Bishop Brady Coach Aaron Brochu said. “We preached that it was going to come back to bite us, and tonight was the night.”

Poor free throw shooting was the ghost, and the night was last night in the Division III girls’ basketball semifinal. The No. 2 Giants (18-3) shot 5-for-15 from the line while No. 3 Campbell went 11-for-15 on its way to a 44-38 win. The Cougars (19-2) will face No. 4 Fall Mountain in Saturday’s championship game. The Wildcats (19-2) beat No. 1 Newfound in the second semifinal, 61-44.

“Since about halfway through the season we’ve really started to buckle down on our free throw shooting,” Campbell Coach Bobby Allan said. “They realized it can make or break a game.”

And that’s just what happened last night at Southern New Hampshire University. With 3:29 left to play, a single free throw from Brady’s Emma Will knotted things at 37-37, the 13th tie or lead change of the game. But from that point on, the Giants went 1-for-7 from the charity stripe, while the Cougars were 5-for-6.

Brady’s one made free throw during that stretch came from Will with 1:46 to play to cut Campbell’s lead to 40-38. The Giants had four possessions after that, and forced three turnovers to prevent the Cougars from killing clock, but Brady missed one forced jumper, committed one turnover and went 0-for-4 from the line with those possessions. On the other end, the Cougars got a pair of free throws from Kylee Julia (seven points, two steals) with 31 seconds on the clock to make it a two-possession game, 42-38, and another two freebies from Alexandra Trevains (10 points, five rebounds) with 3.5 ticks left to ice it.

That six-point final margin was the largest of the game for either team, which is exactly what both coaches expected.

“We expected it to be back and forth the whole game,” Brochu said. “We never thought there would be a five-point lead here.”

“It’s Goliath vs. Goliath in these type of games,” Allan said. “It’s the type of game where you throw your best out, they throw they’re best out, and we just see who’s gonna come out on top.”

The best from both teams delivered. Hannah Neild has been Campbell’s leading scorer this year and has been on fire during the playoffs, and last night she finished with 13 points and five assists. Brady’s leaders also came through as Riselly Deoleo had 13 points, three assists and four steals, Sarah Thomas finished with 12 points and two assists, and Melissa Mallahan had nine points and 10 rebounds.

Deoleo sparked the Giants from the start, scoring four in the first quarter and creating four more points with her passing to lead Brady to a 10-9 lead after one. The Cougars got a spark off the bench from freshman Hannah Fabiano, who scored six of her eight points in the second quarter to help Campbell to a 23-22 halftime lead.

It stayed tight throughout the third quarter as both teams scored 10 and upped their defensive pressure.

“Both of us got after it and played great defense and scrummed down there for the loose balls and did all those things,” Brochu said. “But we just couldn’t come up with those big fouls shots when we needed them.”

It’s the second straight year the Giants ended their season in the semifinals with an 18-3 record. Last year Brady lost to eventual champion Bow, 36-31, in the semis. Even though the Giants couldn’t take that next step this year, they won’t let it spoil their season.

“It was a great season,” Brochu said. “We lost a couple key players from last year’s team, but these guys rebounded wonderfully. I think the chemistry actually got a little tighter as a result and that really held them together.”

(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at tosullivan@cmonitor.com or 369-3341 or on Twittter @timosullivan20.)

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