Sixty-two seconds showed on the clock, and the game appeared to have slipped away from William and Mary. Visiting Northeastern had a three point lead after losing a 13 point lead in the waning minutes of the second half and a loss seemed likely. Instead, the Tribe (6-17, 4-8 CAA) averted disaster, pulling out a 78-70 overtime victory.
Senior forward Emily Correal scored a crucial lay-up on an assist from senior guard Janine Aldridge to close the gap to 64-63 after a final timeout. The Tribe stopped the visiting Huskies on the ensuing possession, earning a last chance to tie or even end the game. With deft ball movement, the Tribe found Correal, who drew a foul with 11 seconds remaining. Correal hit the second free throw to knot the game at 64-64 and ensure overtime.
The Tribe shined in the extra period, earning all 14 of its overtime points either in the paint or at the free throw line. The Tribe attack in the extra period was powered by Correal, who notched four points and three rebounds in after the regulation buzzer, sophomore guard Jazmen Boone, who staked the Tribe to an early lead in OT with a critical basket on the first possession, and sophomore guard Kyla Kerstetter, who drew fouls on two of three possessions by the College to keep Northeastern at an arm’s length.
The Tribe won the overtime period by relying on toughness and determination, as they overpowered their opponents with smothering defense and offense intent of pounding the ball into the paint. As the Kaplan crowd roared chants of “defense,” the Tribe ramped up the pressure on their opponents and gritted their way to a 78-70 win.
“It feels so good. It just feels so good to win,” Correal said.
Though they were eventually victorious, the game could not have started worse for the College. The Huskies tested the Tribe’s standard zone defense with a barrage of three-pointers, starting the game by going 8 for 8 from beyond the arc and grabbing a 26-12 lead just seven minutes into the contest. The Tribe, however, was hardly rattled, responding with a staggering 21-1 and holding Northeastern without a three pointer for the remainder of the half by closing out on the Huskies’ shooters. The Tribe’s run pushed it to a solid 38-33 lead at the end of the half.
The Tribe continued its explosive offensive play to kick off the second half, striking again with an 18-5 run that gave them a commanding double-digit lead midway through the second period. The Tribe was bolstered through out the game with substantial advantages on the boards and in the turnover battle; their 14 second chance points and 29 points off turnovers in the game were critical in building extended scoring runs.
Just when they seemed defeated, however, Northeastern responded with a quick rally, hitting three-pointers on three consecutive possessions as a part of their own 13-0 run to slash their deficit to a meager two points. The Huskies tied the game at 60-all with just under three minutes left and finally took their 64-61 advantage before head coach Debbie Taylor’s final timeout. Then, Correal and the Tribe took over and willed themselves to victory.
The Tribe was led by Correal’s 27 points and 10 rebounds, as well as 13 points for Boone and 15 points for Aldridge. Kerstetter finished with 11 points and an impressive six offensive rebounds, and she helped power the Tribe’s defense with ferocious pressure and quick close-outs on open shooters.
It was a team effort, with the entire lineup contributing to power the College. In particular, each player contributed to the Tribe’s 41-33 rebounding advantage, and nine of ten Tribe players logged at least one steal as the squad forced 24 Northeastern turnovers.
“We just willed just willed ourselves to win this one, our kids really wanted it. We got stellar performances from a lot of people so it was really a true team effort, and well deserved. I think we outlasted them,” Taylor said.
The Tribe’s victory stopped a three game skid and set them up for the remaining six games remaining on their schedule. They next host CAA leader Delaware on Sunday at 2pm at Kaplan Arena.