Carmel hadn’t beaten Benet in a long time before upsetting the Redwings 51-46 last year in Mundelein.
The Corsairs proved that win was no fluke, knocking off Benet 50-44 on Saturday in East Suburban Catholic action in Lisle. The visitors sank 10 of their first 19 shots and led 22-6 following an inside basket by junior guard Kathleen Felicelli with 5:12 left in the second quarter.
“We were talking before the game about how they were ranked above us, so we were like, ‘alright, let’s show them that we should be ranked higher,’ ’’ Felicelli said. “It just means a lot because this is a great conference win for us.”
Felicelli scored seven of her game-high 19 points in the first quarter as Carmel (7-3, 1-1) shredded Benet’s defense with quick passes and short baseline jumpers. She made four straight shots at one point and finished 8-for-13 from the floor and 3-for-4 from the free-throw line to go with six rebounds and four steals.
“I feel like our team was just so excited driving the hour [down] here,” Felicelli said. “We were pumped up on the bus. Everybody was energized and I think everybody just wanted to get out there and get ahead as soon as possible.”
It was the second straight loss for the Redwings (8-4, 0-2), who were playing without injured starters Jenna Martin (stress fracture) and Eden Olson (sprained ankle), both of whom could be out until January. Benet also lost sophomore forward Emma Hlavin to a possible concussion in the final minute and star guard Christen Prasse was hobbled by sore feet.
Despite that, the Redwings battled back to make it close, closing to 37-32 at the end of the third quarter on a three-pointer by Emily Eshoo and three times cutting the gap to three points in the fourth quarter, the last coming on a jumper in the lane by Emily Schramek that made it 47-44 with 1:36 left.
Benet had a chance to pull closer but missed two free throws with 58 seconds to go. Carmel’s Nicole Bitter split a pair of free throws seven seconds later and then Felicelli iced the game by making both ends of a one-and-one with 18.9 remaining.
“We were ready for this game,” Carmel coach Kelly Perz said. “[The Corsairs] were still remembering last year’s win and they wanted to do it again, so they were really fired up.
“Hats off to [the Redwings]. They fought back real well in the second and third quarters and it was a close game in the fourth. We were really smart in the last three minutes of the game. We took good shots, handled the ball well, didn’t turn it over and made our free throws.”
Claire Ogrinc scored 11 points for Carmel, while center Kayla Quinn added seven points and seven rebounds. Eshoo tallied 13 points and Schramek 12 for Benet, which also got six points, five boards, three steals and three assists from freshman point guard Kathleen Doyle.
“It was one of those things where it was 17-4 at one point,” Benet coach Peter Paul said. “That’s hard to come back from. I thought we did and battled hard, but at the end we just came up short.”