TOMS RIVER - Last weekend, the St. Rose girls basketball team was just seconds away from leaving no doubt that it was the No. 1 team in the Shore Conference heading into the Shore Conference Tournament.

This weekend, the Purple Roses were the No. 5 seed in the Shore Conference Tournament and faced a fourth-seeded Rumson-Fair Haven team that was a preseason top 10 team in the state. With one game-tying, buzzer-beating shot by Manasquan's Dara Mabrey on Feb. 11, St. Rose slipped out of the top four in the SCT.

Against Rumson in the SCT quarterfinals on Saturday at Pine Belt Arena, St. Rose sent a clear message to the rest of the field: "We are no five seed."

Junior Elizabeth Marsicano scored 20 points and classmate Mikayla Markham poured in 18 to help the Purple Roses top the Bulldogs, 74-60, and earn a rematch with top-seeded Manasquan in the semifinals on Monday. Manasquan defeated St. Rose 60-57 in overtime on Feb. 11, with Mabrey sending the game to overtime with her three at the buzzer.

"(The seeding) was a slap in the face. No doubt," St. Rose coach Joe Whalen said. "You're six seconds away from beating the number one seed and then you drop to five? But listen, we haven't gotten respect all year and that's okay. We don't play for your respect, we play for our own."

"When we saw the seed, we didn't like it," Marsicano said. "We knew we worked so hard and we deserved better, but we came out and one this game and hopefully we'll win Monday. We will win Monday. As long as we do that, the seeds won't matter."

Marsicano also had eight rebounds and four assists while Markham handed out four assists. Senior Ellyn Stoll added 13 points and Jen Louro chipped in seven points, nine rebounds and six assists for St. Rose.

"Getting the fifth seed was not ideal, but to us, it doesn't really matter," Stoll said. "We just know that we have to show people that we're not a fifth seed. I think it definitely was a motivator for us and it gave us a bit of an edge."

If St. Rose set out to make a statement from the opening tip, the Purple Roses were successful. The scored the first 10 points of the game, holding Rumson scoreless for the first three minutes.

Bulldogs junior Tori Hyduke, however, responded by scoring all 14 of Rumson's points in the first quarter and by the early stages of the second, the Bulldogs pulled even at 20. Hyduke finished with a game-high 28 points.

St. Rose never let Rumson take the lead and regained control of the game with a 19-5 run to close out the half and go to the locker room with a 39-25 lead. Marsicano led the run with 10 points, including a pair of three-pointers, and Markham poured in six during the burst as well.

The Purple Rose will next look to topple Manasquan, which has not lost to a Shore Conference opponent this season. The Warriors were the runner-up to St. John Vianney in last year's SCT.

"The good teams lose and they get over it," Stoll said. "We were disappointed we lost, but we went back to practice, we watched film, we self-corrected, and we moved on. Now we get another chance and we'll be ready."


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