The East Central University women’s basketball team trailed for most of the game at Arkansas-Monticello, but ended up coming back to earn a last-second 63-61 win over the Cotton Blossoms (4-16, 2-13 GAC) in Great American Conference action. The win allowed the Lady Tigers (17-4, 12-3 GAC) to remain in first place alone in the GAC standings.
“I felt like we persevered today,” said head coach Kent Franz. “We kept playing and in the final minutes we made some good offensive and defensive plays. We were lucky to make a play in the final seconds and just one second left on the shot clock to earn the win.”
ECU was led by senior Regan Browne, who tallied a season-best 18 points and added four rebounds and two assists. Sophomore Dilan Webster was close to a double-double, with 14 points and nine rebounds, while also adding a career-best six blocks.
The first half was slow to get started, as ECU hit a triple in in the first 40 seconds and then both teams remained scoreless until the Cotton Blossoms earned their first point at the charity stripe with 17:36 left to play. UAM tied the game at three and the teams then both struggled to score for the first 10 minutes of the stanza.
The game remained tight until 10:26 was left on the clock and the Cotton Blossoms broke a 10-all tie with a 9-3 run over the next three minutes to take a 13-19 advantage. The Lady Tiger remained down by five-to-six points until 5:45 was left on the clock. ECU went on a 9-7 run until the end of the half that cut the deficit to three, 28-31.
The second half was a back-and-forth battle for the lead, with three ties and five lead changes. Both teams used several large runs throughout the half, with the last coming from the Lady Tigers. With 2:19 left the Cotton Blossoms had taken a 56-60 lead, but ECU countered with a 4-0 run to take a 61-60 lead. UAM tied the game at 61 with one-of-two free throw attempts, with 1:18 left on the clock.
Both teams missed on their next possessions and the Lady Tigers earned the last possession. Senior Kodi Morrison made the most of it for ECU, hitting a lay-up with four second left to lift the Lady Tigers up 63-61. The Cotton Blossoms were not able to get a shot attempt up on the other end and ECU went on to win.
The key difference in the game was free-throw shooting. The Lady Tigers went 20-of-23 from the charity stripe (87%), while UAM struggled to make their shots with the clock stopped, going 17-of-34 (50%).
ECU will now return home to play its final three games at the Kerr Activities Center for the 2012-13 season. The Lady Tigers will first face Southwestern Oklahoma State, Thursday, Feb. 14 in the PinkOut/Date Night at the Kerr Activities Center. Fans are encouraged to wear pink in support of breast cancer awareness and the first 200 fans will receive a free PinkOut shirt, courtesy of Patriot Ford and Valley View Regional Hospital.