Susie Moynihan had never experienced anything like Friday night for a basketball game.
With a boys-girls doubleheader taking place at the Cahill Gymnasium, the stands were nearly packed when Moynihan and her Lions' girls team were down by 8 points to Nazareth Academy in the final quarter of the night's first game.
After Lions senior Michelle Presslak made 2 free throws with 1:29 left to get Viator to within 42-38, Lions junior guard Erin Fabbri fouled out three seconds later after scoring a game-high 19 points.
Moynihan then stepped up big and drove to the basket for layup, got fouled and completed the 3-point play to get her team to within 42-41 with 1:12 left.
But Nazareth was able to hold on a 43-41 for the win as senior guard Kayla Freeman made 1 of 2 free throws with 17 seconds left and the Lions missed two shots from inside 14 feet in the final 8 seconds of the East Suburban Catholic Conference match.
"Our student section really helped us at the end," Moynihan said of the Lions' comeback. "I've never been involved with something like that (big crowd) since this is my first year on the varsity."
It's the first year for Lions coach Christina Jost, too, and she liked what she saw from her sophomore guard in crunch time.
"What a big 3-point play (by Moynihan) that was," Jost said."It took a lot of guts to drive the lane and score at the end of the game like she did. She is only a sophomore and has a great career ahead of her."
Fabbri, already enjoying a superb career, took a nice pass from Jennie Horstmann (4 points) and scored her final basket with 7:21 left to get Viator to within 37-33.
But the Roadrunners were able to got a layup by Tetra'anah Cross and 2 free throws from Megan Tobin to build their biggest lead of the game at 41-33.
"Obviously, Erin is one of our leaders and our leading scorer," Jost said. "But I have to credit the other kids out there when she fouled out. They hung in there and fought to the very end."
The start of the game belonged to the Lions.
Fabbri hit a 3-pointer to trigger an 8-2 run and the Lions led 14-8 after one quarter.
But back-to-back 3 pointers by Freeman midway through the second quarter helped Nazareth get back into the game.
The Roadrunners scored the first 12 points of the second period and held Viator (12-10, 0-4) to 2 points in the quarter. Those came on a rebound layup by Samy Stanley (5 points) with 27 seconds left in the half.
Nazareth led 20-16 at the break and 34-29 after three quarters.
"I felt we gave them too many easy shots in the lane," Jost said. "And we made too many silly fouls. But I give credit to our girls, They didn't fold."
Cross, a 5-foot-10 junior forward, led Nazareth (11-7, 1-3) with 14 points while Freeman added 13.
"She (Cross) obviously had some size on us," Jost said. "She played a solid game. I thought our kids did the best they could on her. We made some adjustments at half and did a little better job on her in the second half."
Moynihan finished with a career-high 9 points, including her big drive to the basket at the end.
"As soon as Erin went out, I knew we needed someone to take over a leadership role and her scoring mentality," Moynihan said "Our student section really helped get us going. We learned that we just have to keep up our energy for all four quarters."
Nazareth had 5 3-pointers in the game, including four by Freeman.
"She (Freeman stepped up with some big 3s," said the Roadrunners Lidia Arias, who assists head coach Kim Connell, a former Schaumburg High School standout athlete "She is a shooter. She has been struggling with her shot but she really helped us out with this game."
The Roadrunner were 10-of-26 at the free throw line and missed nine in the fourth quarter.
"That was definitely frustrating and they (St. Viator) had a lot of looks," Arias added. "But our girls were able to pull through."