TRIBE 66, UNCW 70
If heartbreak were currency, then the College of William and Mary would be rich.
A day after learning that starting point guard Katie Oblinger would be lost for the season with torn ACL and MCL ligaments in her right along with a micro-fracture of her right femur, the Tribe (12-14, 5-10 CAA) dropped a 70-66 overtime contest against the University of North Carolina-Wilmington (14-12, 8-7 CAA) literally at the last second.
The Tribe held a 62-59 with seven seconds remaining in regulation, which looked like it would hold up until senior guard Courtney Portell fouled Seahawk guard Greta Luksyte with 0.4 seconds remaining behind the three-point line.
“She didn’t foul her,” Head Coach Debbie Taylor said. “It was a great angle for me because it was on my side of the floor, so I watched the whole thing. It’s a call you just don’t make.”
After a period of review during which the referees checked whether the shot was behind the three-point line, Luksyte, who led the Seahawks with 18 points, calmly hit all three of her free-throws to extend the game and allow UNCW to pull away in overtime.
“Whoever was filming didn’t get the camera down the floor quick enough so there was no footage of the play,” Taylor said. “When the call was made none of the officials put their hands up to call a three.”
Freshman guard Taysha Pye led the Tribe with a game-high 23 points, while junior forward Tiffany Benson contributed 11 points and 11 rebounds. Both players were instrumental in a comeback, during which the College went on a 23-6 run near the end of the second half.
Trailing 42-34 at the 15:44 mark, the Tribe scored nine consecutive points and pulled within 46-45 on Portell’s three-pointer from the top of the key.
After both teams traded baskets, Benson evened the score at 52-52 with 6:27 remaining. A jumper from junior forward Lauren Aadland and a three-pointer by freshman guard Janine Aldridge (14 points) pushed the College into a 62-53 lead at the 4:09 mark
It would be the last time the Tribe would score until overtime.
“I think I need to do a better job of teaching them how to play with a lead because that seems to be our Achilles heel right now, the last two minutes of every half,” Taylor said.
The extra period proved to be anticlimactic as UNCW went on a 6-0 run after a pair of Pye free throws to put the game out of reach.
Sunday’s game marked the sixth-straight game double-digit scoring game for Pye although continuing the streak was bittersweet as the 73 percent free throw shooter missed three free throws in the final minute that might have put the contest out of reach.
“I was really pleased with our effort and the things we did,” Taylor said. “When you play well and you’re in that position, it’s heartbreaking.”
The Tribe hosts James Madison University (18-8, 11-4 CAA) Thursday at 7 p.m. at Kaplan Arena. The Tribe currently sits in ninth place in the CAA, but could move up to fifth before the start of the conference tournament.