Jan. 18, 2012
Lions drop ‘Cats in overtime heartbreaker
By David Boyce
JOPLIN, MO. – Of all the close losses Northwest Missouri State women’s basketball team has suffered through this season, the 83-75 setback against Missouri Southern Wednesday evening might be the toughest one to swallow.
The Bearcats showed plenty of grit to force overtime on the road at Leggett & Platt Athletic Center, but just could not get the one crucial basket in overtime to get a lead.
The loss was costly for Northwest. The Bearcats dropped to 4-13 overall and 2-8 in the MIAA. They are tied with Southern, who improved to 6-10 and 2-8.
Still, there were bright spots.
Freshman Maggie Marnin played like a senior in the closing seconds of regulation.
Marnin hit two important free throws with 30 seconds left and then blocked a shot near the basket with a second left in regulation that sent the game into overtime tied 65-65.
Marnin finished with a game-high 24 points, eight rebounds and four blocks. She was 8-for-9 from the line.
“Maggie came out and really had a big game,” Northwest coach Gene Steinmeyer said.
It was amazing the Bearcats got the game to overtime. With about a minute left, Northwest gave up an offensive rebound that led to a field goal, giving the Lions a 62-59.
Southern followed with another bucket for a 64-59 lead with under 40 seconds. Northwest got the ball down court quickly for Shelly Martin. She knocked down a three-pointer.
After a free throw by the Lions, Marnin made her two free throws, and with 23 seconds remaining, Northwest tied the game at 65-65 on a free throw by Abby Henry.
Northwest played tough defense in the final 23 seconds.
“They did the right things down the stretch with clock management to get it to overtime,” Steinmeyer said of his players. “We hit crucial shots. To get it to overtime was big.”
Overtime was much like the rest of the game except the Bearcats didn’t have a comeback in them this time.
Southern scored the first basket. Northwest tied it at 67-67 on a 15-foot jumper by Martin. Martin played well and finished with 19 points.
“Shelly started showing life,” Steinmeyer said.
But other than Martin and Marnin, the Bearcats struggled to find consistent offense. It cost them in overtime.
“It’s a shame because if we had the same balance that we had against SBU, we would have probably had an easy win,” Steinmeyer said. “Some kids who hit some shots against SBU just couldn’t buy a bucket. I can’t fault their effort.”
A three-pointer by Haley Weathers gave Southern a 70-67 lead. The Lions slowly pushed their advantage to 76-71. They couldn’t find the same spark that they had late in the first half that kept Northwest in striking distance.
The bleakest moment in the first half for the Bearcats ignited their best period of basketball.
Northwest needed the late spurt to prevent a double-digit deficit at halftime. The Bearcats had every reason to feel good despite going into the locker room behind 30-27.
“We forced 15 turnovers in the first half and we still trailed by three,” Steinmeyer said.
For most of the first half, Northwest had trouble making shots. The only player with some success was Marnin. A blowout looked possible. The Bearcats trailed 25-13.
Something clicked after Weathers dropped a three-pointer to give the Lions a 12-point lead. Northwest scored the next 10 points and closed to 25-23.
After a free throw by Southern, Northwest tied the game at 26-26 on a three-pointer by freshman Ashleigh Nelson. The Bearcats were back in the game.
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