PIPPA PASSES, KY – Alice Lloyd Lady Eagles senior forward Amber Shepherd poured in 32 points to lead the home standing Eagles to a thrilling 79-76 overtime victory over the visiting Cincinnati Christian University Lady Eagles Tuesday night.
In the opening period, the two squads came out battling, but ALC had the upper hand 16-15 thanks to seven early points from Shepherd.
In stanza two, the host Eagles would increase their lead as Shepherd ran her point total to 12. Her squad would enter the locker room at intermission nursing a 33-27 lead.
In the third quarter, the hosts would extend their lead as junior guard Kayla Wilson drained several shots and Shepherd added five more to her output as well. The girls from Caney Creek went into the final ten minutes leading 49-42.
In the final period, sparked by the efforts of guard Brittany Wells, the visitors showed their grit. CCU would go on a 15-6 run to take their first lead in over thirty minutes (57-55) with just 3:33 remaining. To make matters even worse, when Cincinnati Christian guard Brianna Ruffin sank a short jumper with just 1:07 showing on the clock, her club led 65-59 and seemed assured of a great comeback.
Unfortunately for the visitors, the hometown girls were unwilling to go down without a fight. On the next ALC possession, Wilson had two good looks that just rimmed out, but her teammates retrieved the rebound each time. Then Shepherd found junior guard Bailey O’Bryan in the right corner. Her bomb tickled the twine with .45 remaining, and set the deficit at three (65-62).
CCU came down in search of a good shot since they could not run out the clock. Alice Lloyd tightened up things on the defensive end, and forced a crucial turnover. The ladies in white now had the ball with a chance to tie.
With the crowd screaming with nervous energy, Shepherd would take matters into her own hands. The forward dribbled from two point range back across the three point line and, with ice water in her veins, coolly wheeled and swished a jumper from 25 feet. The game was now tied at 65 with .25 glaring on the clock.
CCU looked to get the ball to their hot-hand Wells for the winning shot. However, ALC sophomore forward India Hairston-James would drop down to double-team and strip her of the ball. A desperation shot at the buzzer by junior guard Miranda Wilson was tantalizingly close, but bounced off at the buzzer, forcing overtime.
In OT, Shepherd would toss in five quick points to give her squad an advantage, only to watch Cincinnati Christians Wells reduce the deficit to two (74-72) at the 1:20 juncture.
Knowing how critical the next possession was, the visitors were determined to keep Shepherd’s hands off the ball. Fortunately, to the delight of the home folks, Lady Eagle Miranda Wilson found Hairston-James open behind the arc with 53 ticks left. The sophomore drained the huge triple to give her mates some breathing room.
To their credit, CCU would battle back to within two points before Miranda Wilsons charity toss put her team up 79-76. Just as the host Eagles had done earlier, the visiting Eagles would get three opportunities to tie things and force a second overtime. Unlike the hosts, all three would come up short as the buzzer sounded to officially end the matchup.
For the victors (11-13; 6-11 RSC), Shepherd sank 10-18 field goals, 5-11 threes, and 7- 7 foul shots for her 32 points. She added 6 rebounds, 2 steals, and 1 block. Kayla Wilson added 14 points, 5 boards, 4 assists, and 2 steals while twin sister Miranda added 7 points, a game-high 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals of her own. Hairston James chipped in with 9 points and 4 rebounds.
Alice Lloyd shot 39.7% (29-73) from the field and 34.6 % (9-26) from long range. From the charity line, they were 80% (12-15). Additionally, they registered 40 rebounds, 11 assists, and 15 steals.
CCU (8-19; 5-12 RSC) was paced by Wells with 18 and Ruffin with 14. Their team connected on 41.4% (29-70) from the field and just 21.4% (3-14) from long range. They sank 65.2 % (15-23) from the charity line and also had 40 rebounds, 13 steals, and 8 assists.
The Lady Eagles close out the regular season this Saturday when they return home to face the top-seeded Indiana University Kokomo Cougars on Senior Day. Tip-off is set for 1:00 pm.