SELINSGROVE — Despite a 19-point lead, the Susquehanna women weren’t awarded their tournament championship trophy at halftime Sunday.

And when the second half began, St. Elizabeth played as though the hardware was still up for grabs.

The visiting Eagles erased their deficit with blistering third-quarter shooting, but the River Hawks answered with a late surge for an 80-66 win and the Susquehanna Trailways Tipoff Tournament championship Sunday at O.W. Houts Gymnasium.

After a first half in which Susquehanna held St. Elizabeth to 6-of-30 shooting, the Eagles rallied with a dynamic third-quarter performance.

St. Elizabeth shot 13-of-16 from the field in the period, a scalding 81.3 percent. The Eagles (3-3), who trailed 37-18 at halftime, took leads of 49-48 and 51-50. Kamille Jacobs scored 16 of her 20 points in the game after halftime.

“They ran a lot of (isolation sets), 1-on-1, trying to get foul trouble, and we wanted to force them to play more of a halfcourt game,” said Susquehanna coach Gabby Holko.

The River Hawks (3-1) surged for 28 points in the fourth, with 14 coming from the joint efforts of Amalia Esposito and Erin McQuillen, to counter the Eagles’ 33-13 run.

“We got really comfortable with the lead,” said McQuillen, “and when they came back, we needed to play calm.”

“The third quarter started out rough for us,” admitted Esposito. “They had eight quick points and they forced us to play catch-up.”

Susquehanna weathered St. Elizabeth’s storm, and after the dust settled, Esposito, McQuillen and company took over.

“Energy is a big thing on our team,” Esposito said.

It became evident as the fourth quarter moved along. Esposito scored seven of the first 13 points in the period, with tournament MVP McQuillen taking over from there. She had seven points in a 13-point stretch. Rachel Sweger added four of her six in the run, and Nevin Hoenninger scored five of her nine points in the decisive frame.

“We bought ourselves another win this season because of the adversity we faced and how we overcame it,” Holko said. “When adversity slapped us in the face, we didn’t back down from it. We said, ‘Let’s get it together,’ and we did.”

Esposito led SU with 17 points and seven rebounds, with McQuillen adding 13 points. Point guard Amanda Lemire poured in 16 points and dished eight assists for the River Hawks.

“She was on fire,” Holko said of Lemire. “She wasn’t feeling as confident Saturday (in a win over York), and I told her to just go out there and be your smiling self. She’s our best distributor.”

Susquehanna assisted on 21 of its 29 field goals, and hit 40 percent of its 3-point attempts (10-of-25).

“The best passes we make are the skip passes and extra passes,” Holko said.

The River Hawks return to the court after Thanksgiving break to host Lycoming on Sunday.

SUSQUEHANNA UNIVERSITY TRAILWAYS TOURNAMENT

SUSQUEHANNA 80, ST. ELIZABETH (N.J.) 66

St. Elizabeth (3-3) 66

Kamani Williams 6-12 2-4 14; Dianne Nieves 0-4 0-0 0; Maria DeVincenzo 3-5 4-4 11; Rakiyah Sellers 3-15 5-8 11; Kamille Jacobs 6-12 5-10 20; Alani Jones 3-9 0-2 6; Aryanna Baytops 1-2 2-3 4; Bailey Barnes 0-1 0-0 0 TEAM 22-60 18-31 66

Susquehanna (3-1) 80

Olivia Brandt 3-6 2-4 8; Amalia Esposito 7-10 3-6 17; Nevin Hoenninger 4-10 1-2 9; Erin McQuillen 5-11 0-0 13; Amanda Lemire 4-7 4-4 16; Taylor Evans 0-4 0-0 0; Sadie Comfort 3-5 0-0 8; Alexa Petrozzino 1-2 0-0 3; Rachel Sweger 2-5 2-2 6; Kaitlyn Lynch 0-1 0-0 0 TEAM 29-61 12-18 80

Halftime: Susquehanna 37-18. 3-point goals: St. Elizabeth 4-13 (Nieves 0-2; DeVincenzo 1-2; Sellers 0-2; Jacobs 3-5; Jones 0-2), Susquehanna 10-25 (Esposito 0-1; Hoenninger 0-3; McQuillen 3-7; Lemire 4-5; Evans 0-1; Comfort 2-4; Petrozzino 1-2; Sweger 0-1; Lynch 0-1). Rebounds: St. Elizabeth 41 (Williams 10), Susquehanna 41 (Esposito 7). Assists: St. Elizabeth 6 (Sellers, Jacobs 2), Susquehanna 21 (Lemire 8). Turnovers: St. Elizabeth 18, Susquehanna 16. Total fouls: St. Elizabeth 19, Susquehanna 24. Fouled out: St. Elizabeth (DeVincenzo), Susquehanna (None). Technical fouls: None. A: 104.

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