By Rory Noble
The lady Mountaineers put forth a valiant effort against conference rival College of Idaho on Feb. 7, but fell just a bit short, literally. Nicole Redd put up a three-point shot just before the final buzzer sounded. It fell just short and the Yotes escaped with the 67-64 victory.
It was apparent that both teams were up to the task from the early minutes of the game. C of I lead by three about a minute into the game. Then Redd made good on her first three-pointer of the afternoon, tying the game. The Yotes’ Erica Martinez answered with a three-pointer of her own, giving the Yotes the lead again about two minutes into the game.
Redd then hit another three to tie the game once again at the 16:12 mark. The two teams went up and down the court early in the first half. However, with just more than nine minutes to go, College of Idaho had a five point lead after a pair of free throws from Haylee Burnham. EOU answered within seconds with a three-pointer from Brittany Newcomb. Burnham then worked her way into the paint for a layup, putting the Yotes up by four.
Newcomb then hit another three and EOU only trailed by one point. A foul by Burnham on a Payton Parrish defensive rebound allowed EOU to work the ball down the court to Redd, who hit a jumper to give the Mountaineers the lead with 7:40 left in the half. Redd cleared a defensive rebound on the Yotes’ next possession which eventually lead to an EOU three point lead.
EOU nursed a small lead the rest of the way until the lady Yotes tied the game with about two minutes to go. Newcomb knocked down another long-range shot for another three point Mountaineer lead, but once again, C of I came back to tie on another three by Burnham. Madeline Laan finished off the first half scoring with a couple of shots from the charity stripe to give EOU a 36-34 half time lead.
College of Idaho’s Chakala Carthen tied the game early in the second half with a layup, but EOU went on a mini run to lead by five with just more than two minutes gone in the half. Yet again the Yotes stepped up to the challenge and gained another tie as Martinez hit a three-pointer and followed by a fast break layup. Kassy Larson was called for the foul on Martinez’s layup. With the scored tied at 41 all, Martinez hit the free throw to give C of I their first lead of the second half.
The lead was short lived as Redd hit a three-pointer at the 12:58 mark. With 10:29 remaining, EOU had built the lead to four, but the Yotes came back with layups from Carthen and Martinez to tie the game at 48-48 with 9:49 to go in the game.
With the score knotted at 51-51, the Yotes made two more layups on consecutive possessions and lead by four points. The teams traded baskets until EOU came back to tie the game at 57 on a couple of Newcomb free throws.
The teams tied once again at 1:29 left in the game at 64-64. A pair of free throws by Sienna Edmondson gave the Yotes a two point lead with one minute to go. A steal by Martinez and a block by Dayna Drager kept EOU from scoring on consecutive possessions as time ticked away on the clock.
With seven seconds on the clock, Elisha Hensley made one-of-two free throws to put the Yotes up by three. Then, as time expired, Redd’s last-second shot fell short.
The Yotes’ Martinez led all scorers with 21 points. EOU’s top performers were Newcomb with 19 points and Redd with 17 points. During the game, the Mountaineers attempted 34 three-point shots, connecting on just 10 for 29.4 percent shooting. For the game the Mountaineers shot just 33.8 percent from the field. The Yotes hit 40 percent of their three-pointers (6-15) and shot 42.4 percent from the field.
Despite the loss, the lady Mountaineers remain atop the CCC standings with a 11-3 conference record and a 19-7 overall record. They travel to Salem on Feb. 14 for a game against Corban College and then visit Eugene the next day to battle Northwest Christian University.
Regardless of whether they win or lose their next few games, the Mountaineers have already clinched a spot in the conference tournament.