Cierra Bennett led the Irish to a 48-45 victory over Boardman.
BOARDMAN -- It was senior night at Boardman High Monday night, but it was Ursuline senior Cierra Bennett who stole the show.
Bennett scored a career high 27 points and sparked Ursuline to a come-from-behind, 48-45 upset victory over Boardman in a regular season girls basketball game.
The victory improved the Irish to 16-3, while the Spartans concluded the regular season with a 17-3 record.
Fourth quarter rally
Ursuline, which trailed by eight points (34-26) entering the fourth quarter, outscored the Spartans 22-11 in the final eight minutes, with Bennett leading the way with 15 points.
"She really took over tonight," said Ursuline coach Sean Durkin. "It was a career-high performance for her and it couldn't have come at a better time.
"It was a rough game against one of the better teams in the state," Durkin added. "It got a little sloppy at times out there, but you had two very physical teams going at it tonight.
"I thought the officials let them play tonight, which at time helped us, but it was two good teams going at each other."
Big foul difference
Boardman coach Ron Moschella didn't feel quite as good about letting the teams play freely.
"Ursuline had only three fouls called against them the entire game and we shot two free throws," he added. "We're a team that averages about 16 to 18 free throws a game.
"You have to give Ursuline credit, they played a great game," Moschella added. "I thought Bennett really killed us."
Ursuline, which scored just 26 points through the first three quarters, had 15 in the opening quarter and never trailed until the final seconds of the second period.
Bennett had eight of those first 15 points as the Irish grabbed a 15-10 lead, but the Spartans picked up the defense in the second quarter and didn't allow the Irish a field goal until the 2:20 mark of the period.
Senior April Melquist, who led the Spartans with 17 points, scored off a rebound with 21 seconds remaining in the half to give Boardman its first lead, 21-19.
Defense the difference
The Spartan defense continued strong in the third quarter as Ursuline managed just seven points. Boardman led 28-26 with just over three minutes to play before scoring the final six points, four of them by senior Jessica Moore, to take a 34-26 lead.
Bennett hit a 3-point shot to open the final period for Ursuline and the Irish then went on a 9-2 run, all by Bennett, to close to within one point, 36-35.
The Irish took the lead for good, 41-40, with 2:05 remaining on a layup by Bennett, and made it 44-40 on a three-point play by Vannessa Dickson with 1:40 to go.
Melquist hit a 3-point shot with 1:22 remaining to pull Boardman back to within a point, but two free throws by Bennett with 53 seconds remaining and then a costly offensive foul by the Spartans led to the clinching basket with 18 seconds remaining by Tyra Grant, who added 11 points for the Irish.