The climb was a slow one, but the fall was quick.
After digging itself a five-point hole at half to visiting Johnson & Wales, the University of Saint Mary women’s basketball team began its comeback early in the second period.
The task wasn’t easy, however, nor was it always pretty. With 10 minutes left in regulation, the USM deficit had actually grown to 11 points.
Still, where there is a will there is a way and on Friday night, the Lady Spires were determined to win. Methodically, Saint Mary chipped away from the Wildcats lead over the next six minutes.
The hard work paid off and thanks to the hot hand of Tracie Weege, Saint Mary recaptured the second-half advantage when the senior guard buried a 3-pointer with 3:29 remaining.
“I thought we had some good moments,” USM coach Mike Basler said. “Our resiliency and battling to the last second was really good to see. They scored the last five points though, so that’s tough to swallow.”
The Weege heave pushed the home team on top, but it was short lived. Two minutes later, the Lady Spires saw its biggest lead of five get cut to two.
A minute later, the Wildcats kissed in a lay-up to take a 75-74 advantage. With 14 seconds left, the Lady Spires had one last shot at victory, but a Shelby Watson floater in traffic failed to hit rim.
The ball bounced aimlessly away as the buzzer sounded, giving Johnson & Wales the one-point win.
“They had a kid that made a big shot,” Basler said. “We had the ball in the end, it wasn’t the best shot you would want, but we got something moving toward the basket. We had an opportunity to score or get a call, but unfortunately neither one happened.”
Korbynn Stallbaumer and Weege each scored 13 a piece to lead the team in points while Watson grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.
Adelyn Ezeh racked up seven assists.
The Lady Spires, 4-2, will host Central Methodist today at 3 p.m.
“There were some things that we can build off of, but there were things we need to fix as well,” the USM coach said. “We didn’t get to the 50-50 balls. Those loose balls become magnified when you lose by one point. Those little things stack up.”