LEWISTON — Jannessa Talarico had the hot hand at the right time Friday night.
The sophomore guard at Lewiston also had the stealth hand when her Blue Devils needed it most.
Talarico not only rallied her Blue Devils from behind but made the crucial steal in the closing seconds. Her two free throws iced the 48-44 victory over Brunswick.
“Once I made the first of the two foul shots, I thought to myself, ‘Oh my goodness, we just won,'” said Talarico.
It was the second win of the season for the Blue Devils who had not won a game since 2008. The earlier win over Lawrence ended a streak of 74 straight losses.
Friday, the Blue Devils did it before another home crowd and for their two seniors MacKeznie Sullivan and Emily Dixon.
“It was just great that we did it on our Senior Night,” said Talarico. “You can’t give them a better present to leave with.”
Talarico finished the night with 24 points, including four 3’s. Meagan Mathon had eight points while Kelsey Dumond added five. Emily Paione, Sullivan, Alex Wilson and Brie Wilson also chipped in as well.
“They need to know that there isn’t any game they can’t win if they play as hard as they can,” said Lewiston coach Mike McGraw. “They have to see that they need to play every minute as hard as they can and one minute leads to the next.”
Brunswick (4-12) got 11 from Melanie Bryant and 10 from Lyse Henshaw.
“We lost to them by (16) points last time,” said Talarico. “We knew we played bad last time and knew we could play better. I can’t be more proud of my team.”
An offensive drought in the third had Lewiston (2-14) falling behind. Brunswick shot 5-for-11 in the quarter and built a 25-17 lead with 4:35 left in the quarter. With four from Bryant and baskets by Julia Champagne and Lauren Carlton, the Dragons opened the third with an 8-2 run to open the lead.
Talarico answered with a 3, but Faulkner scored on a drive to make it 27-20 with 3:38 left.
“One of the key points was when Jannessa put herself into a zone and chose to bring us back,” said McGraw. “After that, everybody relaxed and everything was going well.”
Talarico scored seven straight to erase the lead. After Carlton hit a jumper to put Brunswick up by one, Drumond hit a jumper. Talarico finished the quarter with her fourth 3 within four minutes to put Lewiston up 33-29.
“I’ve always been an OK 3-point shooter,” said Talarico. “I know when I get hot to keep going, and if I’m missing that, I should stop. I knew I’d made a couple in a row. So I knew I might as well keep going.”
Talarico hit a jumper and scored on a rebound early in the fourth. Then Brie Wilson sank two technical foul shots for a 39-30 lead with 5:15 left. Lewiston was even up by 10 after a Brie Wilson steal and basket with 3:46 remaining.
“It’s been almost six years since we had a lead,” said McGraw. “So we have to learn how to deal with it. We’re more than capable of it. We just have to have the poise.”
Faulkner tried to rally the Dragons late as Lewiston struggled to play with the lead. Brunswick’s press forced eight Blue Devil turnovers in the fourth. Faulkner had five points during a 7-1 surge that made it 44-40 with 1:09 left.
Lewiston got two free throws by Talarico but turnovers and back-to-back baskets by Henshaw cut the lead to 46-44 with 15 seconds left. Brunswick even got the ball back after Lewiston threw the ball away, but the Dragons traveled. After a missed Blue Devil free throw, Brunswick had another chance. Henshaw took the ball to the lane and was poised to put up a potential tying basket.
“I kind of reached in and stole it,” said Talarico. “I just grabbed the ball.”
Talarico was fouled and sank both free throws.
“I was pretty proud the way we handled it,” said Talarico. “If we get in that situation again, we can get a little more comfortable with it. So we have to learn to hold on to the ball and know they’re going to foul.”