Paige McCormick (center) is honored during senior day on Sunday afternoon (Photo by Roberts Wesleyan Redhawks)
ROCHESTER, N.Y. --- For Paige McCormick, it was simple: come to Roberts Wesleyan to play with her younger sister Madison. And the former UMass star made a great decision, netting 22 points on Sunday afternoon to lead Roberts Wesleyan to a 63-52 overtime win over the Molloy College Lions from the Voller Athletic Center.
Feeding off their 79-48 win over Molloy on Saturday, the Redhawks picked up right where they left off. Early on, the McCormick sister combination paid dividends, as Madison and Paige combined for eight of Roberts's 11 early points.
But after getting up early, the Redhawks and Lions hit a stalemate, as both teams did not score for two consecutive minutes. That was until freshman Georgia Haverlock broke the drought with her two-point jumper with 2:06 to go in the first quarter.
After the first quarter, the Redhawks had a 14-7 lead and looked to be in cruise control. That was until Gabriella Aspuru and the Lions went on a run, cutting the Redhawks lead to one with about four minutes to go in the first half.
Roberts' Emily Palmer countered with her first jump shot to give the Redhawks a 22-19 lead. But another stalemate occurred, as neither team scored for the last 4:28 of the second quarter. Redhawks head coach Kevin Clifford was visibly frustrated with his team right after the buzzer sounded.
For the first time all weekend, the Redhawks were in uncharted territory. On Saturday, Roberts walked into the locker room with a 45-18 lead and cruised to a 79-48 victory. They had a dogfight on their hands, and whatever Clifford told his team at halftime put an extra pep in their step.
It was the upperclassmen's times to shine, as Dimitria Gkizani and Paige McCormick combined for all of the Redhawks 19 points in the third quarter to stretch their lead to seven, 41-34.
But in a game where the winner would be the two seed in the East Coast Conference postseason tournament, the Lions did not back down. Junior Morgan Staab came alive for the Lions, scoring nine consecutive points to give Molloy a 45-41 lead.
Roberts countered with punches of their own, as a Taryn Wilson three-pointer and Gkizani lay-up pushed the deficit down to one. But after two free throws by Molloy's Cameron Corbett, the Redhawks were down three with less than one minute remaining.
And after a defensive possession forced a shot clock violation, the Redhawks were ready. And with 2.0 seconds to go, freshman Danielle DiCintio was as cool as a cucumber, hitting arguably the biggest shot of the season with a left-wing three-pointer to send the game into overtime.
With the momentum in their hands, the Redhawks slammed the door on a Lions comeback. Nine of the Redhawks' 13 points in the extra frame came from the McCormick sisters, clinching the #2 seed and the right to host an ECC semi-final.
After the game, McCormick explained her decision to leave UMass for Roberts Wesleyan and play with her younger sister.
"I just wanted to play with my sister one more year, or however long it might be. It was a hard decision to leave my teammates at UMass, as I still love them to death. But I got to play with my other sister, so it was special," McCormick said, holding back tears.
But it was not just personal for Paige, as Madison was a part of her ride to three straight state championships for Heuvelton, which is over 3.5 hours from Roberts Wesleyan. Madison said that she is glad to have her sister here at Roberts, even if it is just for one season.
"I think just her bringing her dedication, motivation, and mentality was a big thing. Plus it helps with our chemistry out on the court. But I think she brought good assets to the team, and it's going to help us go far," McCormick said.
Other leading scorers for the Redhawks were Dicintio, Madison McCormick, and Dimitria Gkizani with 10 points apiece, while Molloy's Cameron Corbett led the Lions with 14.
Sunday's win makes it five straight for the Redhawks. The team looks to make it six as they host the #3 seeded St. Thomas Aquinas Spartans on Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. for a right to go to the East Coast Conference Championship. The last time the Redhawks made the championship was during the 2015-2016 season.