Women’s basketball: Cougars narrowly defeat Tribe 79-77

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JAMIE HOLT / THE FLAT HAT

William and Mary looked to end its first two-game losing streak of the 2018-2019 campaign when the Tribe traveled to Charleston to take on the Cougars on Friday. The College lost games to Delaware and Drexel last weekend, the latter game coming down to the final seconds. Prior to the loss to Drexel, the Tribe was 7-0 in games following losses, but the pair of losses handed the College its first two-game skid of the year. Friday, the Cougars (7-14, 3-7 CAA) had an answer for every run the College (11-10, 4-6 CAA) made and ultimately earned the series sweep by winning a double overtime thriller, 79-77.

The College got off to another relatively sluggish start, trailing for a majority of the time before the first media timeout at the 2:53 mark of the first quarter. The Cougars scored on the first possession of the game before the two teams traded turnovers to keep the score at 2-0 after one minute of action. Freshman guard Eva Hodgson gave the Tribe its first lead of the game just over a minute in on a three-pointer off a feed by sophomore guard Nyla Pollard. The Tribe’s lead was short-lived, with Charleston answering back within 34 seconds and scoring the next four points of the game. Gabby Rogers briefly gave the College the lead back with back-to-back layups towards the midway point of the quarter. Nevertheless, the Cougars fought back to hold a 10-9 lead at the media timeout. Neither team scored for over a minute after the media timeout before the Tribe forced a steal and Hodgson found senior guard Bianca Boggs in transition for a layup to make the score 11-10 in favor of the College. However, the Cougars used a pair of offensive rebounds to propel themselves back into lead after 10 minutes, 12-11.

The Tribe used some defensive pressure to jump out to a quick start in the second quarter with back-to-back buckets by senior guard Misha Jones and Boggs. Jones put the Tribe up 13-12 before Boggs forced a steal and converted on a breakaway layup. However, the Cougars bounced back with two three-pointers by guards Darien Huff and Tyler Collins to retake the lead by three. That was the margin when head coach Ed Swanson was forced to call for a timeout at 6:09 mark with the Cougars on top, 20-17. Boggs and Hodgson each scored on the first two possessions out of the timeout to give the Tribe a slim lead, 21-20, as the clock ticked under five minutes to go in the half. The Cougars had the answer once again, but junior forward Victoria Reynolds scored on consecutive possessions to give the College a 25-22 edge with two minutes to play before the break. The Cougars finished the half on a 4-1 spurt to tie the game at 26 at halftime.

The College came out firing in the third quarter, quickly tying its largest advantage of the afternoon in the first 50 seconds of the second half. Reynolds and Boggs each made layups to put the Tribe up 30-26. Boggs missed a chance to finish an and-one, but she did convert a three-point play just a minute later to stretch the College’s lead to five points. Nevertheless, the Cougars continued to show their resiliency, erasing the deficit in less than a minute by tying the game at 33 with more than seven minutes to play in the quarter. Guard Deja Ford gave the Cougars their first lead of the second half on a trey from the corner with under six minutes to play in the quarter. At the media timeout, the Cougars still held a three-point lead, 41-38. The Tribe finished the quarter strongly, thanks in large part to Boggs’ effort. She tallied 12 points in the quarter to give her 19 for the game. She scored six straight points down the stretch of the quarter to turn a three-point deficit into a three-point edge. Charleston managed to retake the lead again, but redshirt sophomore Harper Birdsong made the final shot of the quarter to give the College a 48-47 lead with 10 minutes remaining.

Reynolds and Boggs stretched the Tribe’s scoring run to 6-0 at the start of the four quarter, but Ford stopped the bleeding to make the score 52-49 with just over eight minutes left in the contest. As the clock wound below seven minutes, the College finally managed to get some separation and take its first three-possession lead of the day, 56-49, after a triple from Hodgson. Rogers also hit a pair of free throws to give the Tribe 12 of the last 15 points and a nine-point edge. Nevertheless, the Cougars continued to hang around and Huff drained a three-pointer at the 5:34 mark to close the gap to four points, 58-54. The Cougars ultimately went on an 8-0 run before Rogers made two more free throws to push the lead back to three points.

A minute later, she made another two free throws, before chaos ensued. Rogers was at the center of a scuffle after a jump ball was called on a Charleston possession with less than three minutes remaining. Rogers was ejected for her role in the incident and four Charleston players that left the bench were automatically disqualified. After a lengthy stoppage in play, Hodgson took two technical free throws for the Tribe, making one to push the score to 63-59. The Cougars responded with one more free throw to cut it to a one-possession game again. With 45 seconds to play, Huff drained a floater through the contact and added a free throw to knot the score at 63. The Tribe had a chance to take the lead, but Birdsong made an errant pass, giving the Cougars the ball back with 36 seconds remaining. The College played stifling defense to force a shot clock violation and get the ball back with 5.7 seconds remaining with a chance to win the game. However, Boggs missed a shot at the buzzer and the Tribe and Cougars went to overtime tied at 63.

The Cougars scored first in the overtime period to take the lead for the first time since late in the third quarter. Reynolds tied the score at 65, but the Cougars responded again to grab a two-point lead with three minutes to go in overtime. With 46 second to play in overtime, the College seized its first lead of overtime on a three-pointer by Birdsong that gave the Tribe a 70-67 advantage. Huff had a chance to tie the game but missed a three-pointer. However, the Cougars came up with the rebound and made a putback layup to get within one with 12.6 seconds to go. Reynolds was fouled and made both free throws, but Collins drained a deep contested three at the buzzer to force double overtime with the score knotted at 72.

This time, the Tribe jumped out to the early lead on a Birdsong triple after coming up with a defensive stop. However, as they had all game, the Cougars came up with the response, courtesy of a three-pointer by Huff. The score was still tied, 77-77, at the two-minute mark when the College forced a turnover to prevent the Cougars from taking their first lead of the double overtime period. However, the Tribe committed a turnover of its own with 27 seconds left, giving the Cougars a chance to take the last shot. Collins was able to get to the basket and score with just six seconds left, giving Charleston their first lead of double overtime. The Tribe had one last chance to force double overtime or win the game with a three-pointer, but Boggs turned the ball over as time expired, sealing a 79-77 victory for the Cougars.

The Cougars were led by four players in double-figures, including Collins’ 18 points, including the game-tying three in the first overtime and the game-winning shot in the second overtime. In the loss, the College was led by Boggs’ game-high 23 points. She also chipped in six rebounds and four assists. The Tribe had three other players in double-figures in Reynolds, Rogers and Hodgson. The College looked to recover from the close loss when it wrapped up its weekend at North Carolina-Wilmington.