Collins buzzer beater lifts Bobcats over Royals, 60-58

BANNER ELK, N.C. --- Freshman Tayler Collins (Fayetteville, N.C.) connected on a last-second jumper to beat the buzzer, and propel the Lees-McRae College women's basketball team to a hard-fought 60-58 victory over Queens University of Charlotte in Conference Carolinas play on Saturday afternoon in Williams Gymnasium.

With the win, Lees-McRae (5-5, 3-4 CC) extends its win streak to four games overall and three in conference play, as the Bobcats held Queens (6-5, 4-3 CC) to a field goal percentage of 29.2 percent on the afternoon. Queens won the battle on the glass by a 48-37 margin, including a 20-5 advantage on the offensive boards, as Lees-McRae set a program record by converting each of its 25 attempts at the free throw line in the contest.

Layana De Souza (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) led the Bobcats with 14 points, as Alyssa Munson (Summerfield, N.C.) added 12 points with a 5-for-7 night from the floor. Lauren Lewis (Concord, N.C.) and Kabrina Truesdale (Wilmington, N.C.) each chipped in 11 markers, while Truesdale recorded game-highs of eight assists and three blocks. Kerri Belcher (Roanoke, Va.) added a strong game with six points and a team-high seven rebounds for the Bobcats.

Shonice Pettaway paced the Royals with a double-double, posting game-highs of 20 points and 11 rebounds, as Dyonna Battle nearly added a double-double of her own with 14 markers and nine boards. Sarah Myatt also chipped in seven rebounds.

The Bobcats started strong, taking an early 5-0 lead on a Lewis triple at the 19:24 mark after de Souza fed Munson for an open layup off the opening tip. Queens would battle back, evening the score at 5-5 before Lees-McRae answered with a 7-2 spurt, claiming a 12-7 advantage following a Lewis jumper at the 14:04 mark.

After the Royals countered with a 7-0 run to snatch a 14-12 lead, Lees-McRae responded with a 12-7 spurt to claim a 22-21 advantage on a Candace Flowers (Charlotte, N.C.) with 3:09 to play in the half. Queens would answer with a Jamilah Watson layup to take a 23-22 lead before Lewis drew the foul and converted the ensuing free throws, sending the Bobcats into the intermission with a narrow 24-23 advantage.

The Bobcats carried the momentum into the second half, opening the period with an 8-3 run to push the lead to 32-26 on a pair of de Souza freebies with 13:37 left on the clock. Queens would counter with a 9-2 spurt, claiming a narrow 35-34 advantage following a Melissa Thomas lay-in at the 11:57 mark.

Lees-McRae answered once again, taking a 42-37 lead when Truesdale dropped in a layup with 7:59 remaining to cap an 8-2 run. The Bobcats would hold on to the advantage with strong play over the next several minutes, stretching the lead to 56-45 following a Munson layup and a pair of Truesdale freebies with just over two minutes to play.

Queens refused to give in, battling back with stifling defense over the next two minutes to cut the margin to 58-54 on a pair of Battle free throws with 27 ticks left on the clock. Pettaway would trim the lead to 58-56 with two freebies before knotting the score with just four seconds remaining, forcing a turnover and putting back her own miss to even the tally at 58-58. The Bobcats executed the ensuing in-bound play to perfection, creating a screen to free Truesdale on the break with just one defender in the backcourt. Truesdale then found a perfectly positioned Collins inside the paint, who got the shot off just before the buzzer, and then watched as the ball did a circuit around the rim before falling through to give the Bobcats a thrilling 60-58 victory over the Royals.

Lees-McRae returns to the court on Wednesday when the Bobcats host North Greenville University in conference play at 5:30 p.m. The Bobcats will hold a special ceremony during halftime to dedicate the new floor of Williams Gymnasium to McNair and Debi Tornow on Avery County Chamber of Commerce night.

- LMC -