Thirty-one minutes and change of intense basketball Thursday night between host Mater Dei and Lakewood St. Joseph came to a dramatic end when forward Rosemarie Imbriano hit a 15-foot jumper from an inbound pass with 15 seconds left to give the Monarchs a 54-52 victory.
The victory gave Mater Dei (12-10, 7-1 in league) the Angelus League title and dropped St. Joseph (8-12 overall) into a second-place tie with Rosary at 5-3.
Imbriano, Melissa McDonald and center Zsuzsi Burkhalter sparked Mater Dei. McDonald scored 23 points, 10 of them in the first quarter, and blocked a shot by St. Joseph's Bev Stiglbauer with 19 seconds remaining and the score tied at 52 that set up the Monarchs' winning shot. Imbriano finished with nine points and Burkhalter had 10 points and seven rebounds.
And though Stiglbauer still torched the Monarch defense for 29 points, Mater Dei played a tough man-to-man swarming defense that neutralized most of the other St. Joseph shooters.
"They always get up for us," said Mater Dei Coach Brenda Yecke. "I thought our defense did a great job."
St. Joseph got the upper hand, 54-51, in its home game against Mater Dei earlier this season and the Jesters seemed poised for another victory over the Monarchs, jumping to an 11-5 lead with 2:25 left in the first quarter and a 14-11 edge at the end of the period.
Stiglbauer scored 11 of her points in the second quarter, but Mater Dei managed to trim the St. Joseph lead to 27-26 at the half.
Mater Dei went ahead, 38-36, after three quarters and was up by five, 47-42, after a pair of free throws by McDonald with 3:44 left, but St. Joseph stormed back with six straight points by Stiglbauer.
In another league game:
Rosary 46, Santa Margarita 44--Julie Peterson hit a 10-foot jumper with 15 seconds left for Rosary. The victory tied Rosary (11-7 overall) for second place in the final league standings with St. Joseph at 5-3. Santa Margarita finished at 2-15 and 1-7.