Redhawks Magical Season Ends in Double OT Thriller
March 5, 2005
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - (Saturday, March 05, 2005) As the final seconds ticked away, the tears running down the players of the Redhawks women's basketball team weren't of joy but of sadness and frustration. The NCAA title hopes of the Redhawks were spoiled by that of Eastern Kentucky, 84-73 in double overtime of the title game of the O'Reilly Ohio Valley Conference Women's Championship game.
The Redhawks (22-8) seemed to have the game won in regulation when Natalie Purcell (Auckland, New Zealand/Hutchinson CC) nailed a jumper from the corner with :09 seconds remaining to make it 60-58. Those nine seconds however left OVC Coach of the Year Larry Joe Inman plenty of time to get the ball into the hands of Laura Shelton. Shelton drove the length of the court and shot a left-handed lay-up over the outstretched hand of Chandra Brown (Louisville, KY/Southeastern Illinois CC) before the buzzer to force only the second overtime in OVC Tournament finals history.
In the first overtime the Redhawks were struck a blow when OVC Player of the Year Tatiana Conceicao (Sao Paulo, Brazil/Western Nebraska CC) fouled out immediately at the start of the OT. Despite the setback and loss of the scoring leader, the Redhawks struck first when Purcell hit a three-pointer. The Lady Colonels (23-7) answered with two-straight lay-ups by All-OVC selection Miranda Eckerle to grab a one point lead, 64-63.
Katrisha Dunn (Dallas, TX/Eastern Oklahoma State College) hit her third three-pointer of the game to give the lead back to the Redhawks, 66-64 with 2:38 remaining. Eckerle struck again, scoring on yet another lay-up to once again tie the game at 66 apiece with 2:14 left.
Neither team could score in the final two minutes however and the teams headed into the first double overtime game in OVC Championship Tournament history.
The damage was already done to the Redhawks heading into the second OT as Conceicao and Brown were on the bench due to fouling out. The lack of an inside presence was taken advantage of by the Lady Colonels in the second OT as they attacked the interior defense of the Redhawks and dominated second OT using a 15-2 run to jump out to a 13-point advantage, 81-68, the largest lead of the game by any team and cruised to the 84-73 win and EKU's second OVC title.
"That's obviously the kind of game you want to have if you're a fan, in the conference finals," said Redhawks Head Coach B.J. Smith. "It was a great game; they (Eastern Kentucky) made some great plays. I thought (EKU's Laura) Shelton's basket at the end of regulation was great and I thought we made some grat shots down the stretch."
"It was a great basketball game, you have to tip your hat to EKU...they sure battled and fought hard," said Smith.
The Redhawks started the game on fire jumping ahead 6-0 at the start and holding the potent EKU offense scoreless for the first three minutes.
Southeast controlled the tempo of the game the first 14 minutes grabbing two nine-point leads, the largest lead in the game by the Redhawks.
OVC Freshman of the Year Ashley Cazee brought the Lady Colonels back hitting a three-pointer at the 3:36 mark to give EKU their first lead of the game, 23-22. That highlighted an EKU 18-6 run to end the first half with a 32-28 lead.
In the second half EKU jumped out to a seven-point lead, 35-28 on an Eckerle lay-up. The Redhawks chipped away and later grabbed their first lead of the second half, 48-46 on a Purcell three at the 7:30 mark.
The final seven minutes of the regulation featured four lead changes and four ties leading up to both the team's late heroics.
Overall the game featured 11 lead changes and six ties.
Purcell finished with a team-high 16 points with 12 of those coming via the three.
Conceicao added 13 points and Brown rounded out the Redhawks double figure scorers with 10 points on 4-5 shooting.
The senior also had team-highs of eight rebounds and three steals. She also added one block to finish her career with 75 blocks which ranks fifth on the all-time list. Her 49 blocks this season set a new single season blocks record as well.
Wanika Owsley (Indianapolis, IN/Southeastern Illinois CC) tied a career-high with seven assists.
Overall the Redhawks shot 40-percent from the field and the Lady Colonels finished at 49-percent.
With the Redhawks post players in foul trouble EKU capitalized by outscoring Southeast 46-34 in the paint and 21-6 in second chance opportunities.
Four Redhawk players fouled out, including three starters as the Redhawks committed 32 personal fouls as the Lady Colonels were only called for 19.
Eckerle led all scorers with 29 points, including 16 points in the two overtimes.
Eckerle was also named Tournament Most Valuable Player.
Purcell and Conceicao were named to the All-Tournament team.
"It's unfortunate for the seniors, but we have a lot of people coming back next year and hopefully we can build on what we've done this year," said Purcell.
The 2004-05 season may not be over for the Redhawks yet as they still have a chance to be invited to the Women's National Invitational Tournament (WNIT) which will select their teams on Sunday, March 13 after the Women's NCAA Selection Committee makes their picks.
Join Head Coach B.J. Smith, the Redhawks coaching staff and players at Buffalo Wild Wings in Cape Girardeau on Monday March 7 at 6:00 p.m. as he recaps the 2004-05 season and reviews the 2005-06 season on the C-106 B.J. Smith Coaches Show.