January 18, 2017
By JC Baumuller
Special to NJS.com
CRESSKILL – Cougars senior Erin McQuillen hit a short baseline jumper with six seconds to go to propel Cresskill past Emerson, 48-46, on Tuesday afternoon.
“Coach [Mike McCourt] said step out and get her the ball,” said Cougars junior Julia Maltby. “I stepped out and I saw her coming and I thought, ‘I really hope that they don’t jump this right now.’ Once I got her the ball I have so much confidence in her that I knew she would be able to get us a win.”
Emerson had tied the score 46-all a minute earlier after senior Devin Riker slipped between two Cresskill defenders to grab a rebound off a missed shot. The Cavos called timeout 20 seconds later and scored the tying basket on a put-back by junior Jenna Cooper, who finished with 11 points.
Cresskill took possession of the ball and passed it back and forth around the perimeter for nearly a minute before calling timeout to set up a play with 14.2 seconds left.
“The plan was for me to get the ball and there would a double screen and I would drive to the basket” McQuillen said. “But the girl was playing really tight. So Maltby got the ball and handed it off to me. I drove and got to the corner. I was a little worried that I was going to get trapped but one of the girls on Emerson went the other way and there was an opening. So I shot it and it went in.”
“We tried to get Erin coming off two screens and have her go to the basket,” McCourt said. “I told them they have to drive to the basket – they can’t settle for a jump shot. What does Erin do? She settles for a baseline jumper. But she’s good at that. It was a good shot for her to take. It worked out.”\
After McQuillen’s winning tally Emerson hustled the ball up court before calling timeout with 1.5 seconds left. A desperation shot missed and Cresskill secured the victory – the first one over the Cavos in a couple of years.
“It’s really good redemption. We have a big rivalry with them and they’re always a great opponent,” said Maltby, who is also the Cougars soccer goalie in the fall. “They also beat us in soccer – we’ve never gotten a win there either. It was really good to come out after so long and get this win.”
“It was amazing,” McQuillen said. “We lost to them twice last year and they were both really close games. To beat them on our court really means a lot.”
Early on it was all Cresskill, especially for sophomore forward Courtney Madison, who tallied eight of her 14 points in the first quarter. She owned the inside, hitting three foul-line jumpers and finishing a fast break with a layup.
“Courtney Madison has the potential to be a dynamite player,” said McCourt.” She faces up, she has a nice jump shot – we saw that from her last year. And she’s got great inside moves and she’s great on the boards. I think she had a double-double.”
A 7-2 run by the Cougars opened up a 10-point lead, 22-12, with three minutes gone in the second quarter.
“We came out a little sluggish – we looked like we were in slow motion,” said Cavos coach Colleen Malzahn. “And then we had to fight to get back into it.”
And fight back they did. A 10-0 run in a four and a half minute span tied the game, 22-22, with 35 seconds left in the half.
“We turned the ball over,” McCourt explained. “We’ve been having a hard time taking care of the ball when we have pressure. And that shouldn’t happen. Hopefully we’ll get better. We’re midway through the season. We have to be able to handle pressure.”
The Cavos received balanced scoring as all six Emerson players who competed in that second quarter tallied a basket.
“It’s great for a Group 1 school to be able to have five kids on the court at the same time that can score,” said Malzahn. “It’s nice to have that many options.”
As the clock ticked down under 5 seconds to go senior Emily Wells swished a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give the Cougars a 25-22 lead heading into intermission.
“We went into halftime up by three,” said Madison.” We let them get back. [But] we came out hot in the third quarter [especially] Julia Maltby.”
Maltby was on fire from the outside, tallying nine points. She canned a trey, hit two field goals and dropped in a pair of free throws in the third quarter, to go along with the two 3-pointers she had drained in the first half.
“In high-stakes games like this I try to really focus on my shot and give my team the best chance to get ahead,” said Maltby. “When I get an opening I just try to do my best and get the open look.”
Maltby led all scorers with 17 points.
But Emerson hung in there and the Cougars never led by more than six in that third quarter. Freshman Victoria Elek drained a three-pointer to draw the Cavos within two, 38-36, and a free throw by Cooper with three seconds to go brought Emerson within a point of the lead going into the final frame.
The Cavos took the lead for the first time since Riker’s basket made it 2-0 in the first quarter with a drive to the hoop by junior Carly Petrower. Petrower tallied a team-high 14 points.
“They’ve (Cooper and Petrower) been playing since they were freshmen,” Malzahn said. “They know big moments and they like to have the ball in their hands at crunch time.”
Cougars senior Sydnie Martin got the lead back for Cresskill but Cooper scored from in close to put Emerson up, 41-40 early in the fourth quarter.
“Sydnie Martin has been stepping up throughout the year,” said McCourt.” She had foul trouble today so she couldn’t do much of anything. But when she was in she made a big layup in the fourth quarter. That sparked us.”
The game went back-and-forth for the next two minutes. Madison gave Cresskill the advantage and Petrower followed with a long 3 to allow Emerson to retake the lead, 44-42. Maltby hit a runner to tie it and McQuillen put Cresskill ahead, 46-44, with a drive to the basket, setting the stage for the last-minute heroics by the two teams.
“This year everyone can really contribute in different ways,” said Maltby.” Emily (Wells) and Sydnie (Martin) are great driving to the basket. Erin (McQuillen) is a great all-around player. Courtney (Madison) is great on the inside. I try to do my part and shoot from the outside. We can be a really well-rounded team.
“This game and the Midland Park game are two of the games we had circled on our calendar,” McCourt said.” We feel we can compete with those guys. Emerson is a great team. They play a tough schedule and she (Malzahn) does a great job. Sean does a great job at Midland Park. For us to come out the first two times of the season and win - I can’t be much happier than that. It’s great for the kids; it’s great for our program.”
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