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Lady Cougars Claim First Win via 67-63 OT Thriller

After going 0-6 against NAIA schools during the first part of the seasons, the Lady Cougars were ready to take on their first NCCAA II opponent of the season and got quite the challenge in #6 Grace Bible College. The Tigers were riding a 7 game winning streak coming off of a 62-52 win over Florida College on Tuesday night. The Cougars fans were out in full force for the first basketball game of the semester and showed great support throughout the game.

Right from the start, it was clear that it would be a tight game as the teams experienced 3 ties and 5 lead changes in the first half alone. Hallie Linville led the way for the Lady Cougars at the half with 11 points including a last second layup off of a Tori Hale steal to give the Lady Cougars a 31-26 half time lead.

In the second half, the Tigers came out fighting and took the lead back with 14:11 to play with the score at 38-37. The teams traded blows, until Grace Bible took 49-48 lead with 7:11 to go in the game. The Tigers would extend their lead to 53-48 with 4:50 remaining in the game, but the Lady Cougars would fight right back to cut the deficit to 1 point with 1:15 to go. With :50 remaining, Molly Holtrop went to the line for the Tigers and made the score 54-52 Grace, but the Cougars refused to go away as Tori Hale would get to the free throw line and make one of two to make it a 54-53 lead for Grace. Anna Iwaniw for Grace hit the first free throw to make the score 55-53 Grace with 0:17 remaining. When Iwaniw missed the second free throw, Tori Hale took the ball the length of the court and found a wide open Liz Jenkins who missed a would-be game winner. However, Hale would grab the rebound and tie the game with :3.4 remaining. After a timeout, the Tigers were unable to get a shot off and the game went into overtime tied at 55.

In the overtime period, Grace Bible scored on the first possession to make the score 57-55. With 2:47 remaining, the Tigers led the Cougars 60-56, but the Cougars would go on a 9-3 run to close out the game with a 67-63 victory that included 5 ties and 10 lead changes with neither team leading by more than 7 points.

After the game, Coach Wilson had this to say, “Grace is an outstanding opponent and really challenged us with their pressure defense and their depth. We made a lot of mistakes, but the team played with tremendous composure to overcome those mistakes and gut out a win against a very good team.” About the difference in the game, Coach added, “This was really a team win. I thought every player made significant contributions throughout the game, but Tori Hale’s senior leadership and toughness were the difference in the game in my opinion.” As for the fan support, here is what he had to say, “The atmosphere was great! This is what playing basketball at Clearwater Christian College is all about, and I am sure that the fan support helped the players concentrate to finish out the game.”

The scoring shows that it was a team win as the Cougars got offense from a number of places. Tori Hale led the Cougars with 20 points, 16 rebounds, and 6 assists. Hallie Linville added 17 points on 7-11 shooting, and Liz Jenkins added 15 points off the bench. Kenya Joseph made her debut scoring 7 points and grabbing 5 rebounds in limited minutes. For the Tigers, Megan Scholtens scored 21 to lead all scorers followed by Molly Holtrop with 10.

With the win, the Lady Cougars move their record to 1-6. On Saturday, January 11, they welcome Bob Jones University to campus for a 2:00 tip.