Photo courtesy of Jacob Turner
BANNER ELK, N.C. - The Lees-McRae College women's basketball team dropped a double-overtime heartbreaker to visiting Newberry 98-89 on Saturday (Nov. 24).
The two teams played a tight first quarter, with LMC holding a 17-13 lead after 10 minutes. The Bobcats jumped out to a 4-0 lead with buckets from Markia Stacey and Meg Crawford, before Shelby Britten and Brea Forbes traded long balls to leave LMC up 7-3. A 6-0 Newberry run across the halfway point of the first put the Wolves up 9-7, before Destiny Johnson's jumper with 4:20 to play in the frame tied the game at nine. Johnson and Meg Essex traded buckets to leave the game tied at 11, before a triple from Stacey put the Bobcats back up by three. Another bucket from Essex got the Wolves back within one, before Mackenzie Blankenship's long ball with 57 seconds left would represent the final points of the frame.
Newberry out-scored LMC 28-20 in a high-scoring second quarter, to take a four-point lead to the locker room. In the first minute, the Bobcats would stretch their lead to as many as eight thanks to back-to-back three-pointers from Breanna Hardnett and Ava Bethea. The Wolves would go on an 8-0 run over two minutes to take a 24-23 lead, before two free throws from Forbes followed by a Courtney Lyons triple left the Wolves up by two. The lead would fluctuate between one point and four points for the Wolves for the remainder of the half, with LMC taking a brief one-point lead on a Crawford jumper with 2:28 left. Newberry concluded the first half with a 41-37 lead.
Both teams would equal each other in a low-scoring third quarter, with each team scoring only 13 points in the frame. Forbes began the second half in a big way with a three-ball in the first minute, before a Regan McCarty layup got the Wolves lead right back up to three. There was no scoring for about a minute before Crawford got the Bobcats back within one. With five and a half minutes to play, Forbes got the Bobcats back on top briefly with a layup before a Crawford layup at the halfway mark extended the lead to three. Newberry would answer 40 seconds later when McCarty nailed a three-pointer to tie the game at 46. Several scoring possessions left the game tied at 50 with under three minutes to play in the quarter, before an Essex layup with under two minutes to play broke the tie. Georgia Elliott-King would knock down a jumper with under a minute left to take the game to the fourth quarter with Newberry clinging to a four-point lead.
LMC would win the final frame 27-23 to send the game to overtime, the first overtime contest of the season for the Bobcats. Kelsey McDermott immediately extended Newberry's lead to six with a layup to start the quarter, before Essex extended the lead to eight with a layup a minute and a half in. McDermott would split a pair of free throws to leave the Wolves up by nine, before Stacey knocked down a three-ball just under three minutes into the quarter to cut the deficit back to six. As the halfway point of the fourth approached, Newberry's lead fluctuated between four and seven points. Just past the halfway point, Elliott drilled a triple to get the Wolves back up by seven before an Essex jumper extended it to nine with four and a half minutes to play in regulation. Essex was fouled on the play, and knocked down her free throw out of the time out to put the Wolves ahead by 10. The Bobcats run back began with a Forbes layup, which was equaled by an Essex jump shot. Consecutive layups by Stacey and Forbes with under three minutes to play forced Newberry to call timeout with a six-point lead, as regulation ticked down into its final two minutes. Stacey zapped life into the Bobcats with a three-pointer with two minutes to play, before her and McCarty would trade long balls on the next two possessions to leave the teams separated by just three points. Just ahead of the final minute, Britten sunk a pair of free throws to put the Wolves up by five before Destiny Johnson made one of two at the line to cut the deficit to four in the final minute. Crawford would knock down a jumper with 37 seconds left to make it a two-point game, before Britten was fouled and sent to the line with 28 seconds left. Britten made one of two, leaving it a three-point and one-possession game. After a well-defended possession by Newberry, Blankenship heaved up a three-pointer that fell with 15 seconds left to tie the game at 75. Newberry had what was one of the final two possessions, and made the most of it when Britten scored a layup with three seconds left to put the Wolves ahead. After a Bobcat timeout advanced the ball past half court, it was Forbes making a left-side layup as the horn sounded to send the game to overtime tied at 77.
Each team scored six points in the first overtime period, beginning with a split pair at the line from McCarty. Hardnett would also split a pair a few possessions later to leave the game tied at 78, before a McCarty layup put the Wolves back up by two with just over three minutes to play. A layup from McDermott would put the Wolves back up by four, before Hardnett drained a triple to get the Bobcats back within one with just over two minutes to play in the extra session. Madison Golden would make one of two from the line with under a minute left in OT, before Hardnett would knock down a mid-range jumper with seven seconds remaining to ultimately send the game to a second overtime period.
Newberry out-scored LMC 15-6 in the second overtime period to get the win, icing the game from the free throw line in the later stages. Two free throws from McCarty and a long ball from McDermott got the Wolves a quick five-point lead, before Forbes knocked down a three-pointer to get the game back to one possession with two and a half minutes to play. Another Essex bucket got the Wolves back up by four, before Hardnett knocked down a clutch triple to get the game to 90-89 with just over a minute to play. That was as close as the Bobcats would get in their hard-fought effort, as Newberry put the game away from the charity stripe in the final minute.
The Bobcats shot 35.1 percent (34-97) from the floor, 32.6 percent (15-46) from beyond the arc and 66.7 percent (6-9) from the foul line in the game. Forbes tied her career-high with 26 points in the game, while Stacey contributed 18 and Crawford and Hardnett each chipped in 12. Four other Bobcats netted points in the loss. LMC pulled down 45 total rebounds in the contest, with 15 on the offensive end and 30 on the defensive end. Crawford completed her second double-double effort of the season leading the team with 13 boards, while Johnson also pulled down eight. Seven other Bobcats were active on the glass on the afternoon. Stacey and Hardnett each had a team-high four assists in the loss, while four different players recorded two steals each and Crawford also led the blocking effort with three.
LMC is back at home on Monday (Nov. 26) to take on Montreat for Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation Night. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. at Williams Gymnasium.