Pelliccia breaks Hearts with game-winning shot

Naugatuck senior Carli Pelliccia knocked in the game-winning jump shot with 11 seconds left to lift the Greyhounds over Sacred Heart 47-45 Tuesday night at Alumni Hall. –FILE PHOTO

WATERBURY — Since her freshman year, Carli Pelliccia has been encouraged by her head coach to shoot more. Pelliccia, now a senior, needed one shot on Tuesday night to make her coaches and teammates smile.

Pelliccia hit the game-winning jump shot with 11 seconds left to lift Naugatuck to a 47-45 win over Sacred Heart at Alumni Hall. The Greyhounds improved to 10-8 overall after holding off a feverish Sacred Heart comeback.

Naugy let a 38-29 lead slip away over the final six and half minutes before finishing off the Hearts in dramatic fashion.

“I’ve been telling Carli to shoot more since her freshman year,” Greyhounds coach Jodie Ruccio said. “When Carli gets set and takes a shot she’s a very good shooter.”

Lauren Piroscafo tallied a team-high 18 points. Amy Dietz provided a key inside performance for the ‘Hounds with 14 points and 11 rebounds and set up the game-winning shot by Pelliccia.

“I got the ball in a spot I like,” Pelliccia said to describe the final moments and her only two points of the game. “I was ready for it.”

Dietz went up against the Hearts’ dynamic post player, Mikyla Jacobs, who had 18 points. Dietz helped limit Jacobs’ impact.

“Amy played great defensively,” said Ruccio, who noted the team’s recent inconsistent offense. “We don’t worry about offensive so much when the defense is there.”

Naugy led for most of the first half thanks to an 8-0 run over the final three minutes of the first quarter. Amber Kuczenski (six points, six boards) hit a layup with 3:07 left before Piroscafo took over.

Piroscafo followed with a bucket on the low block, a steal that led to two made free throws, and a crisp pass to Dietz for a jumper that gave Naugy a 12-8 edge.

Naugy led 24-18 at the half and pushed its lead to nine multiple times in the second half. Piroscafo drained a 3-pointer to give the Greyhounds a 38-29 lead with 6:24 left in the fourth.

It wasn’t enough to knock out the Hearts.

Dionne Parker returned to the Hearts’ lineup following an injury that kept her out of the lineup last week. Parker scored all seven of her points during a 13-5 fourth-quarter run.

Jenna LoRusso capped the run with a 3 from the left arc to cut the Hearts’ deficit to 45-44 with 1:38 left.

Naugy missed two contested layups on the next possession before LoRusso grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 48.8 seconds to play. With the Hearts in the double bonus, LoRusso made one of two free throws to tie the game at 45.

After Pelliccia’s go-ahead basket, Jacobs had two shots around the basket that rimmed out in the final seconds as time expired.
Naugy will close out the regular season with home games against Kennedy on Friday and Wilby on Tuesday. Both games are scheduled to start at 7 p.m.