EAST STROUDSBURG — The Warriors made up for a slow start and relied on staunch defense late.


The end result was their second victory in a row.


Sadie Cresswell scored a game-high 16 points, Jordan Hertz added 13 points and Tiff Lapotsky netted 12 to lead East Stroudsburg to a 58-54 win over Kutztown in PSAC East women’s basketball at Koehler Fieldhouse on Wednesday night.


The Warriors (16-8, 12-6 PSAC East) led by as many as seven points in the fourth quarter but the Golden Bears wouldn’t go away quietly, making it a one-possession game for much of the final six minutes.


With 27.6 seconds on the clock, Kutztown’s Casey Remolde hit the second of two free throws to bring the Bears within a point, 55-54, and ESU immediately turned the ball over, allowing a Kutztown timeout with 22.2 seconds left.


Ten seconds later, Cresswell went to the line for two foul shots of her own and sank both for a 57-54 Warrior advantage before another Kutztown timeout with 12.9 seconds to play.


But the Golden Bears were stopped after Alexis Smith’s 3-point attempt from the left corner of the arch fell way short and into the hands of Julia Kutz. Kutz passed to Lapotsky who drew the foul, went to the line and sealed the victory by hitting one of two.


"I think we just believed in each other and we believed that we could win," ESU coach Stephanie Del Preore said.


Two moments stuck out for Del Preore, whose team won its second straight game after a stretch of two straight losses.


The first was a play with just over three minutes to play in the third quarter that saw Lapotsky driving to the basket for a layup when two defenders collapsed in on her. Lapotsky kicked the ball out to Hertz for a 3, tying the game at 33.


The second came a few possessions later, when the Warriors had bobbled the ball after Kutztown (14-9, 11-5 PSAC East) allowed the ball to go out of bounds. The result was two extra passes that allowed Cresswell to nail a corner 3 with 46 seconds to play in the third quarter, putting the Warriors ahead 41-36 entering the fourth quarter.


ESU’s resiliency shined in the third quarter after a dismal first half statistically.


Though only trailing 26-20 at the halftime break, the Warriors numbers were ugly, shooting 8 of 31 (25.8%) from the field and being outrebounded 26-12 by the Golden Bears, leading to Del Preore and her staff making adjustments before the second half.


"We just talked about better shot selection and sharing the ball a little bit more and keeping our spacing," Del Preore said. "I felt that our spacing was great. And we talked about, you can’t really coach to make a layup. You just have to believe that you can make it.


"And we were explaining that when we had the open drive to take it and keep your head up and don’t release the ball until you actually are at the rim. I think we were so open that we panicked."


The adjustments proved to be right ones. The Warriors now have to hope they’re relocating the momentum they seemed to lose nearly three weeks ago.


ESU is now 3-3 in its last six games, but lost three of four between Jan. 25 and Feb. 5.


"It’s been a little bit of a teaching lesson for all of them," Del Preore said. "I think we’re learning from it, and it’s that point of the season where you never know who’s going to show up on what team and who’s going to do what."


East Stroudsburg has four games remaining in the regular season against Mansfield, Shepherd, Lock Haven and West Chester.


Del Preore said the team can use Wednesday’s win as a game to learn from going forward.


"I think we learned that the things we do in the third and fourth quarters, we have to do in the first and second quarters and that we can’t wait," she said. "Because playoff time down the stretch, we’ve got four games left. You can’t dig yourself a hole and then keep digging yourself back because I think that’s kind of what we’ve been doing.


"But I think we’re resilient and I think we have a lot of fight in us. I think we understand how important it is to make the extra pass."


East Stroudsburg travels to Mansfield on Wednesday, Feb. 19 for a 5:30 p.m. game.


East Stroudsburg 58, Kutztown 54


Kutztown 15 11 10 18 - 54


East Stroudsburg 13 7 21 17 - 58


Kutztown 54


Remolde 1 7-8 10, Derr 4 4-5 13, Tarabocchia 4 0-0 9, Lapkiewicz 0 0-0 0, Zerman 4 2-2 10, Smith 2 1-2 5, Whalen 1 2-5 5, Pierson 1 0-0 2, Mikos 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 15-20 54.


East Stroudsburg 58


Hertz 4 4-10 13, Lapotsky 4 4-5 12, Cresswell 6 2-2 16, Kutz 2 0-0 4, Swint 0 0-0 0, Schoffstall 3 2-3 8, Ksiazek 0 0-0 0, Bassett 0 0-0 0, Wigoda 0 0-0 0, Librizzi 2 0-0 5. Totals: 21 12-20 58.


3-pointers: KU 5 (Remolde, Derr, Tarabocchia, Smith, Whalen); ESU 4 (Cresswell 2, Hertz, Librizzi).