Whether it was watching a clip of the movie Seabiscuit before the game, a halftime talk about heart or collectively getting removable tattoos, the No. 11 McDonogh girls basketball team was looking for any kind of added inspiration to help find a way past No. 3 Institute of Notre Dame last night.
The Eagles found some at just the right time.
Freshman point guard Brittany Mallory took over a tight Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference quarterfinal in the closing three minutes with a three-pointer, a runner from the left baseline and a pair of clinching free throws that helped send the Eagles past the visiting Indians, 45-41, and onto tomorrow's conference semifinals.
The Eagles (19-5) will take on No. 2 St. Frances, a 62-30 winner over Bryn Mawr, tomorrow.
In the regular-season meeting at IND, McDonogh coach Tom Gizzi said a poor fourth quarter proved the difference as the Indians (18-6) came away with a 63-60 overtime win.
"My shots weren't falling early and I was getting a little down, but I just kept shooting and hitting the buzzer shot [at the end of the third quarter] really gave me a boost. And then I just hit the three and I was just like 'Let's go,' " said Mallory, who scored seven of her team-high 16 points in the fourth quarter.
Senior guard Rachel Braver finished with 14 points, while the Indians got 16 points from junior Chandrea Jones.
Behind strong early play from Braver, the Eagles took a 14-8 lead after one quarter, but shot just 1-for-15 in the second to trail 20-17 at halftime.
Mallory's short jumper from the right side at the third-quarter buzzer gave the Eagles a 32-29 lead.
After Brittany Bradley hit a jumper to give the Indians a 33-32 lead with 5:58 to play, McDonogh's Anastasia Wynn scored inside from a feed by Dominique Damico to regain the lead and then Mallory went to work.
"We've been playing all year for one opportunity to play a great team in the playoffs and IND is truly a great team," Gizzi said. "We played them earlier in the year and we didn't take care of business in the fourth quarter, and today I talked to these girls so much about believing in themselves ... Down the stretch we had to make great team plays, play together and find a way to win."