Heart Attack ’Hawks win thriller, advance to national championship game

 

By Zach Hicks

Clutch shooting, near cardiac arrest and history all showed their faces on Friday night’s Final Four game between the Warhawks women’s basketball team and Amherst College.

The ’Hawks (26-6), ranked No. 22 in d3hoops.com’s most recent Top 25 poll, overcame a 12 point deficit with 3:04 remaining, to force overtime and eventually knock off the No. 6 ranked Jeffs (30-2) at DeVos Fieldhouse in Holland, Mich.

Jeffs head coach G.P. Gromacki was at a loss for words at the result of the national semi-final game.

“I can’t describe all those shots that went in.” Gromacki. “I don’t think anybody in this room can. It was like a guardian angel steering those shots in.”

After the death of former teammate Alex Scarbro on Nov. 24, the ’Hawks vowed to dedicate the rest of their season to their friend. The team has referred to having an angel on their shoulders throughout the season.

Down 52-40 with 3:04 left in the game, the ’Hawks went on a 14-2 run to send the game into overtime. The run included four 3-pointers, three of which were by junior shooting guard Mary Merg.  Merg’s third 3-pointer beat the buzzer. She also had a second buzzer-beater in overtime, as she ran the length of the court in six seconds, swishing a 10-foot runner to win the game.

“It’s kind of like a blur to me,” said Merg on her buzzer-beaters. “Unbelievable. I had a little help from No. 32, Alex Scarbro, up there once again. Words can’t describe the feeling.”

The historic win signals the first time in program history that the ’Hawks will play for the national title.

Head coach Keri Carollo said building a program starts with the athletic department providing her and her staff with the resources to recruit good players and good people.

“We’ve come a long way,” Carollo said. “It’s not an easy thing to build a program, but when you can find players like these guys, it definitely helps in games like this.”

Senior center Cortney Kumerow led the ’Hawks with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Merg scored 18 in the game, including 13 points in the last seven minutes and 17 seconds (including overtime).

Although Scarbro is gone, she remains a very real part of the team. Kumerow said the team feels Scarbro looking down on them during games.

“I just feel like you can feel her presence out there,” Kumerow said. “She helps us out. It’s kind of like having that sixth person out there.”

The ’Hawks will play No. 1 DePauw University (33-0) at 7 p.m. EST Saturday at DeVos Fieldhouse.

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