The Forester women's basketball
team (10-5, 2-1) got off to a good start in 2011 by stealing a 84-79 overtime thriller from the Lancers of Grace College (10-6, 1-2) in the first MCC match-up of the year on Tuesday night.
Grace enjoyed their only lead of the half in the opening minute of play but Sarah Miller and Brita Kuiper made sure it was short-lived. They each scored ten points in the first 14 minutes to give HU a 23-19 lead. Miller then fueled a 19-4 tear over the final six minutes of the half to give HU a commanding 42-23 lead at intermission. She finished the half with 21 points, 15 of which came from behind the arc.
Little did the Foresters know the game was far from over. The Lancers came out of locker room ready to defend their home court as they mounted a furious comeback over the first seven minutes of play. Hayley Cashier took charge by scoring 14 of her 26 points during the Lancer run to not only close the gap but take a 48-47 lead at the 11:33 mark. Characteristic of this HU squad, the Foresters showed plenty of grit and determination by not only weathering the storm, but regaining the lead on the next possession.
The Foresters methodically built the lead back to seven, 68-61, with just under two minutes to play. While it looked like they would cruise to the win, the free throw line was not kind to the Foresters as they went 3-for-6 allowing Grace to hang around. Down by four with 12 ticks remaining, the Lancers threw up a desperation three that was off the mark but Jayla Starks came up with the rebound and knocked down a short jumper with four seconds left to close to within two. The unthinkable happened when Juaneice Jackson picked off the ensuing inbounds pass and threw up an off-balance shot that found nothing but the bottom of the net as time expired to send the game to overtime.
With the momentum clearly favoring Grace, the Foresters once again showed what they were made of by not folding when the Lancers got on the board first in the extra period. Kuiper scored HU's first four points and Lauren Meese capitalized on a Lancer turnover to give the Foresters their first lead in overtime at 77-75 with just over two minutes to go. The play of the game came on the next possession when Kuiper forced the Lancers to cough up the ball and on the fast break, Alicia Burrus spotted up behind the arc and knocked down the long trey to give HU a five-point lead with just over a minute left on the clock.
Things got a little shaky when Kelsey Green fouled out with 40 ticks remaining allowing the Lancers to trim the lead to one with 18 seconds left but they were forced to foul Burrus who calmly stepped up to the line and knocked down two freebies to push the lead back to three. On the next trip down the court, the Lancers missed the front end of a one-on-one. Miller was fouled on the rebound and she tossed in two more from the charity stripe to seal the win.
Miller poured in 31 points to lead all scorers. Kuiper finished with a career-high 17 points, six boards and five steals. Meese chipped in 15 points and six assists and Green added 11 points and a game-high 15 rebounds. Cashier paced the Lancers with 26 points and nine rebounds. Joining her in double digits was Jackson with 15 and Danielle Boykin with 12.
The Foresters shot 48.4 percent (16-for-31) from the field and committed 15 turnovers while forcing 20 Lancer miscues.
Huntington is back in action on Thursday when they host Indiana Wesleyan at 7:00 p.m.