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McGrath's buzzer beater lifts Bethlehem past Niskayuna

In the official scorebook, Tori McGrath scored only two points. But they were the two most important points of the game.

The junior forward hit a buzzer-beating basket to lift the Bethlehem girls basketball team to a 41-39 Suburban Council victory over Niskayuna Tuesday night.

Bethlehem coach Matthew Bixby said McGrath should have had four points, but a scorekeeper's error wiped away a second quarter basket.

\She had a layup taken off the [score]board because the scorekeepers missed it, said Bixby. "It was nice to see that she got rewarded at the end."

Niskayuna (2-4 league, 3-5 overall) rallied from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 39 on Schuyler Archambault's uncontested layup with 5.4 seconds left. But Bethlehem (4-2, 6-2) got the ball quickly up the court and into the hands of Bridget Murphy, who passed it on to McGrath for the winning shot as the buzzer sounded.

"We worked on end-of-the-game situations [Monday] in practice because I knew it would come down to this tonight," said Niskayuna coach Sarah Neely. "Unfortunately, it didn't go our way."

Things looked good for Niskayuna early on. The Silver Warriors built a 14-5 lead early in the second quarter and led 19-14 at halftime.

Bixby said his team had trouble getting loose after taking two weeks off for the holidays.

"It's not like we weren't getting good shots and good looks at the basket. We just couldn't knock them down," said Bixby.

That changed in the first three minutes of the third quarter. Bethlehem's full-court press forced several Niskayuna turnovers, and the Lady Eagles started going strong to the basket, which led to three-point plays by Emily Kirby and Jaci Oskam. All of that fueled a 10-0 run that gave Bethlehem a 24-19 lead.

"Basketball is a game of runs," said Neely. "The third quarter was Bethlehem's quarter. We just didn't pick it up on defense."

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