McConico Ties Game on Last-Second Three; Spartans Top Eastern 102-99 in OT

McConico Ties Game on Last-Second Three; Spartans Top Eastern 102-99 in OT

Case Western Reserve University overcame a 15-point deficit late in the third quarter, tying the game on a three-pointer by junior guard Kendall McConico with 1.9 seconds remaining in regulation, and going on to defeat Eastern University 102-99 in the team's final game of the 2018 HoopMIA D3 Holiday Shootout in Miami Shores, Florida on Thursday.

The 102 points scored by the Spartans marked the second-highest single-game offensive output in program history, behind only the team's 105 points scored against Wilmington on November 30, 2002, and is just the second time ever the team has exceeded 100 points in a game.

With the win, the Spartans leave Miami Shores with a 2-0 record at the tournament and end the 2018 portion of their schedule with a 6-3 overall record.  Eastern dropped to 4-8 with the loss.

McConico helped spur the Spartans' comeback, scoring eight of her 10 points in the game during the fourth quarter, including the game-tying three, one of two she hit on as many attempts, each during the final period of regulation.  She was one of six Spartans to score in double-figures in the game, led by a season-high 30 point effort by senior guard/ forward Hillary Hellmann, who also matched her season-high with 13 rebounds for her second-straight double-double, and fourth overall this season.  Hellmann finished the game shooting 12-for-25, including 11-for-16 from inside the perimeter.

Graduate student forward Kara Hageman added a season-high matching 21 points and fell just a rebound shy of her second-straight double-double.  Freshman guards Alyssa Hyland and Abbey Lawrence and sophomore forward Emma Cain each scored 12 points in the game.

Case Western Reserve got an early boost from its bench in the game, with Hyland scoring six points in the opening quarter, Cain adding five, and Lawrence scoring three, as the Spartans' reserves outscored Eastern's 14-2 in the opening period.  However, it wasn't enough overcome a hot shooting start for the Eagles, who connected on nine-of-13 shots overall and four-of-four from long range, to take a 25-22 lead into the second quarter.

Hyland connected on her third three of the game to start the second quarter and even the score at 25-25.  The game remained close for the majority of the period, but Eastern closed out the half on an 11-0 run over the final three-minute and five-second stretch, taking a 44-31 lead into the break.

Hellmann heated up in the third quarter, scoring 13 points in the frame, and Hageman added seven, but the Eagles maintained a 12-point lead, 70-58, heading into the final quarter.

The Spartans opened the fourth quarter on a 7-0 run to cut the Eagles' lead down to five, 70-65, with 8:12 left in the game.  Later in the quarter, a three-pointer and a layup by McConico pulled CWRU back within a point, 80-79, with 2:52 to play.  Eastern would extend its lead back to five points, 84-79, before a Hellmann three cut the Eagles' advantage back down to two points with 1:43 to go.  After each team exchanged threes, with Lawrence converting one for the Spartans, a free throw by the Eagles put them ahead by three with 31 seconds remaining.  With under 10 seconds remaining, McConico fought for a rebound off a three-pointer miss by the Spartans, forcing a jump ball with the possession arrow favoring the Spartans.  McConico would then even the score at 88-88 with a three-pointer with 1.9 to play, and force overtime.

After falling behind early in overtime, a three-pointer by Hageman with 3:56 left put the Spartans ahead 91-90, giving CWRU its first lead in the game since the 7:30 mark in the opening quarter.  CWRU would lead the rest of the way, going ahead by as many as five points on a free throw by junior guard Alicia Marie Gonzales with ten seconds remaining in the game, before a late layup by the Eagles set the final score to 102-99.

The Spartans finished the game shooting 39.5% (30-of-76) overall and 32.4% (11-of-34) from three-point range, including a strong end to the contest, going 10-for-21 from the floor (47.6%) and six-for-11 (54.5%) from behind the arc in the fourth quarter and overtime combined.  CWRU also shot 83.8% from the free throw line during the game, converting 31-of-37 attempts, including an 11-for-14 performance from the line for Hageman.

Both Regie Robinson and Brianna Young-Harris tallied double-doubles for Eastern in the loss, with the former finishing with 25 points and 11 rebounds, and the latter recording a 13-point, 10-rebound performance.

The Spartans will be off for the remainder of 2018, carrying some momentum from their two-game winning streak into their return to action on Wednesday, January 2nd against the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio at 6:00 p.m.