Warren Holds Off McDowell for Sixth Straight Win

January 27, 2024

WARREN, Pa. – An 8-point game at the half turned into a down-to-the-wire battle as Warren held on to beat McDowell, 54-51, for its sixth straight win.

Rewatch the game:

The Dragons (11-4) held a 30-22 lead at the half, but the offense went cold as Warren made just three field goals in the second half. Warren found another way to generate offense, by getting to the free throw line, where the Dragons were 16-20 in the half.

“There’s been multiple games where we’ve had to rely on (free throws),” Warren’s Sammie Ruhlman said in her Cole Orthodontic Associates player interview. “And our coaches push us in practice. At the beginning of the year, we shot 250 each, so it’s a big part of our game.”

See Ruhlman’s full Cole Orthodontic Associates player interview:

Ruhlman made one of the three second-half field goals, perhaps the biggest of the half for the Dragons.

McDowell (2-12) was leading, 42-41, with 1:32 to play when Alyssa Farr found Ruhlman in the corner. Ruhlman knocked down a 3-pointer to put Warren back in front, 44-42.

“I was just beyond excited and I was glad that I could help my team and make it a little bit easier at the end,” Ruhlman said. “But it just kept the energy going and made us move forward a lot stronger.”

Ruhlman, Alana Stuart, and Halle Kuzminski went 5-6 from the line over the next 45 seconds to put the Dragons ahead, 49-42.

The Trojans weren’t about to go away quietly.

Frankie Russo hit a three to cut the lead to four, but Alyssa Farr was fouled on the inbound pass and hit both free throws to push the lead back to six, 51-45.

Russo answered with another 3-pointer to make it a one-possession game, 51-48.

McDowell fouled Kuzminski who hit both to take the lead back to five, 53-48. Russo had another response and knocked down her third 3-pointer in the final 48 seconds to cut the lead to two, 53-51.

Ruhlman was fouled with 4.6 seconds left. She hit the first but missed the second. Samantha Clemente grabbed the rebound for the Trojans. Clemente tried to hit a long outlet pass near midcourt, but Peyton Wotorson stepped in front to pick it off and seal the win.

“Sammie, Meea (Irwin), Alyssa, Halle, and Stu were all clutch from the free throw line in the fourth,” Warren coach Lisa LaVan said.

The Dragons looked like they might run away with it early, jumping out to a 10-3 lead. The Trojans answered with an 8-0 run to take their first lead of the game, 11-10. Warren answered with a 5-0 run of its own to take a 15-11 lead into the second quarter.

Warren outscored McDowell, 15-11, in the second quarter as well for the 30-22 halftime lead.

Russo’s late threes led to a game-high 15 points. Mikaela Bennett had 14 points, and Amaiya Nelson added seven points.

Ruhlman led the Dragons with 12 points. Stuart and Wotorson each had 10 points, and Irwin had eight points in the win.


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