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Ursuline downs Mooney

Staff photo / Preston Byers Ursuline’s Carly Casey prepares to shoot during the Irish’s win over Cardinal Mooney on Wednesday.

YOUNGSTOWN — In a game in which the referees’ whistles seemed just as common as the sound of a dribbling basketball, Ursuline defeated rival Cardinal Mooney on Wednesday 43-36 at home.

The Fighting Irish jumped out to a 12-3 lead in the first quarter and largely controlled the pace for the rest of the half, taking a 20-13 advantage into the locker room.

Mooney head coach Dom Diorio, who has seen his Cardinals fall behind early often lately, said he is unsure why they have struggled so much to begin games.

“We’re trying some different things, pushing ourselves more in warmups. We even tried playing a little different style of game in the beginning and it didn’t seem to matter. We still got behind by 10 or so in the first quarter,” Diorio said. “That’s something we’re definitely trying to figure out right now because that’ll end our season real quick if that keeps up.”

In the third, fouls dominated the action. And with many of the calls going against Ursuline, the Irish supporters in attendance grew increasingly frustrated and voiced their displeasure at the game’s three officials.

One of the most controversial calls came with more than three minutes to go in the third. After driving into the paint and drawing a foul, senior guard Lily Scott was whistled for a technical foul.

Scott, who the official ruled was not in the act of shooting, was set to inbound the ball on the baseline when the referee she was standing next to called her for the technical.

“I just said that it was a shooting foul. I probably should’ve just kept my mouth shut,” Scott said with a smile.

Less than a minute later, an official called Mooney for an intentional foul when a Cardinals player and Scott collided going for a loose ball in front of the Mooney bench.

Diorio said two of the officials told him they did not think it should have been an intentional foul, which gave Ursuline two free throws and possession.

“I’m not blaming it on that, but I feel like there were some calls that definitely should have gone in a different way,” Diorio said. “We made our own mistakes, but it’s hard to run things when they’re just mauling you. And I felt like that’s what was happening, and they got away with it.

“Two of the three refs disagreed with the [intentional foul] call and told me that, but they didn’t make the call. Yeah, it was a foul, I’m not arguing that, but she was going for the ball, she actually got the ball, hit it and they collided. I understand she might have gone into her, and that’s a foul. All I can say is two of the three refs agreed with me, but they’re not the ones that called it.”

Despite relinquishing the lead and going into the fourth down 28-27, the Irish came alive in the final period. Ursuline outscored Mooney 16-8 in the fourth behind eight points in the quarter by Kennedy Carpenter, who had a game-high 15.

The win clinched a second consecutive Steel Valley Conference title for Ursuline, who wore black commemorative shirts to celebrate the achievement.

After the game, Irish coach LaVell Turnage said a conference championship is Ursuline’s “first goal” of the season and that a victory over Mooney is always sweet, even if his team had to endure a physical game to earn the win.

“That’s Ursuline-Mooney basketball. I don’t care if it’s lacrosse, I don’t care if it’s soccer, football, this is what I’m expecting to happen in an Ursuline-Mooney game. It’s a rivalry. They don’t like us and we don’t like them,” Turnage said. “To be honest, there’s only one team circled on my calendar every single year.”

Ursuline (11-10, 6-0) finished its regular season at Girard on Saturday.

Mooney (7-11, 2-3) has a packed upcoming schedule; the Cardinals play New Castle and Louisville on Friday and Saturday, respectively, before meeting Walsh Jesuit on Monday and visiting Hubbard on Feb. 15 to conclude the regular season.

pbyers@tribtoday.com

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