DIXFIELD — For the Dirigo Cougars, charity begins at the foul line.
Senior Hannah Knight and Angela Ronan each scored 11 points, but their free throws proved pivotal as the Cougars pulled away down the stretch for a 39-36 upset win against Livermore Falls in Mountain Valley Conference girls' basketball game at Defoe Gymnasium on Thursday night.
Top-ranked Livermore Falls (12-2) beat No.4 Dirigo (11-3) last month. The score was tied or changed hands nine times in the third quarter, and it as certainly a prelude of what was on tap.
Dirigo took the lead for good 34-33 when Ronan (10 rebounds) scored on her own missed shot with 2:45 remaining in the game. The Cougars scored nine of the 12 points in the final period.
“This is a huge win for us,” Dirigo coach Reggie Weston said. “We knew they wanted to get the ball into (Kathryn) Ventrella's hands so we used a zone and extended the defense. This was a very good team that we beat.”
Dirigo received a golden opportunity when Andies center Marissa Welch (12 points,11 rebounds) was called for an offensive foul in the paint. The Cougars increased their surge on free throws, two by Knight (four defensive rebounds, four assists) and one by Ronan to take a 37-33 lead.
“We just needed to play solid defense down the stretch,” Knight said. “One (objective) was to get on Ventrella (nine points). Nobody stood around, and our pressure and running with the ball was the difference.”
Dirigo made six of 12 free throws in fourth quarter (eight of 20 overall), while Livermore Falls missed its four shots from the charity stripe.
Livermore Falls called time out to set-up a play with 1:22 to go. They worked the ball around to the left side and Megan Therrien (nine points) buried a 3-pointer with 13.9 seconds left. Knight made two free throws and the Andies missed their final two shots.
“We didn’t play our best game,” said Livermore Falls coach Mark Simpson, referring to 35 percent shooting and 17 turnovers. “But you have to credit the job that Dirigo did on us, defensively. Reggie has them playing good ball, and I thought they substituted and made calls at the right times.”
In the third quarter, Paige Murphy (five points) buried a trey to tie the game 29-all, but Therrien hit a trey and a basket to give the Andies a 33-29 lead.
Dirigo started slow but scored 13 of the first 15 points in the second quarter, including baskets by Ambyr Wilson and Kayla Gaudin. Livermore Falls was ahead by four when Alyssa Wade (seven points, three steals) banked in a trey at the buzzer to end the first half.