"I don't see myself as a prolific scorer, I'm typically more in the 8 to 10 point range" said the junior from Traverse City, Michigan. Wagner's career high scoring burst came on 7-8 shooting from the floor and 10-12 from the free throw line. She also added 14 rebounds and two assists.
The Yellowjackets (20-6) held their biggest lead of nine with 7:57 remaining in the game after an Amy Woods jumper in the paint, but Emmanuel (23-6) rattled off an 8-1 run to pull within two points with 5:46 to play.
That's when Wagner took over, scoring 11 of the teams last 13 points in the final five minutes to power UR into the second round of the NCAA Tournament. "We wanted to get the ball inside, everything starts with our play in the paint" said UR Head Coach Jim Scheible. "Emmanuel is a really athletic and skilled team, they made us work hard for every point."
With the score tied at 60, UR then went on a mini burst to build a five point edge with 2:22 remaining. A Sarah Higgins layup and Fiona O'Dwyer 3-pointer on either side of a UR free throw then cut the deficit to just one with 1:17 to play. O'Dwyer led the Saints with a double-double of 21 points and 11 rebounds.
Wagner made a huge layup with just 27 seconds on the clock, putting the home Yellowjackets back up by three. After Emmanuel's Laura Benvenuto was fouled and made the first free throw, Wagner was there to clean up the glass on the second missed free throw and calmly made two at the other end to seal the win.
It was a back and forth first half with each team trading runs with one another. The largest lead in the first session was Rochester by five at two different times. The first half featured five ties and seven lead changes. At the half, UR held a one point lead 31-30.
Junior Danielle McNabb had a solid first 20 minutes, scoring 10 points on 4-5 shooting with three rebounds. Ally Zywicki chipped in seven points and three assists as well in the half. Emmanuel was led by Benvenuto who had eight points while O'Dwyer had six points and six rebounds at the break.
Rochester bolted out in the second half with four quick points to tie the game high lead, but the Saints would answer back with a 10-2 run to grab a three point lead, with six of those points coming on the fast break. Said senior Jackie Walker "Basketball is a game of runs, and we knew they were tough and would battle back when they got down."
UR junior Paige Aleski would hit a big 3-pointer to tie the game back up at 42 with 13:37 remaining. Wagner and Walker would make layups right after to earn a four point lead. Then with just over 10 minutes left, Walker would make a desperation three from way beyond the 3-point line with the shot clock winding down. The trey gave UR a six point lead which would balloon to a game high nine a minute and a half later.
"It's the law of averages for me to make a shot like that", said Walker who had missed a couple of open scoring chances earlier in the game.
For the game, the Yellowjackets shot 43% and had 20 assists on 24 made baskets. Emmanuel made 38% of its shots and got outrebounded by UR 41-35. The Saints did hold the advantage with 15 2nd chance points and 17 points off turnovers. Emmanuel only committed nine turnovers the entire game.
"If you ever told me we could lose a game with just nine turnovers, I'd never believe you" said Saints Head Coach Andy Yosinoff. "This was probably the best NCAA game I have ever been involved with."
Rochester will matchup on Saturday with Williams College who upended the University of Scranton 79-59 in the first matchup of the night in the Palestra.