Gross’ Three-Point Play in Closing Seconds Gives CWRU 74-73 Win over WashU

The CWRU women's basketball team celebrates after beating WashU
The CWRU women's basketball team celebrates after beating WashU

Down two points with 5.3 seconds remaining in the game, first-year guard McKenna Gross made a layup and a foul shot on a drive to the basket to give the Case Western Reserve University women's basketball team a 74-73 victory over Washington (Mo.) University at Horsburgh Gymnasium on Friday night.

With the win, the Spartans improve to 7-6 on the season and 2-0 in the University Athletic Association. The Bears fall to 7-6 overall and 0-2 in the UAA. It was the Spartans' first victory over WashU since January 27, 2013 and just the second in the history of the program. The win gave the Spartans five wins in a row overall and seven straight at home, dating back to last season.

Sophomore guard/forward Abbey Lawrence led the team with 21 points, her seventh 20-point game of the season, and first-year guard/forward Isabella Mills added 10 points and four rebounds. Graduate student Melissa Heath stood out defensively for the Spartans, blocking three shots and collecting seven rebounds to go along with 10 points. Senior guard Kendall McConico added 11 points and six rebounds.

With 20.6 seconds remaining, the Bears made two free throws to take a four-point lead, 72-68. Gross completed her first of two three-point plays to cut the Spartan deficit to one, 72-71, with 13.5 seconds to play. On WashU's next possession, the team made just one free throw to go ahead 73-71, setting up Gross's heroics. All of Gross' eight points came in the second half, including the two traditional three-point plays at the end of the game.

A last second layup from WashU did not fall, and CWRU celebrated the win.

Despite going down 14 points with 9:49 left in the third quarter, the Spartans outscored the Bears 32-17 over the next 15:28 to take their first lead since early in the first quarter when junior forward Emma Cain made a layup to give the team a 60-59 lead, beginning a roller-coaster stretch of play over the final four minutes of the game. Though WashU responded with a three-pointer, Lawrence tied the game at 62 with a jumper on the next possession.

With under three minutes to go, a Cain layup put CWRU back on top, though the Bears tied the game at 64 on the following possession. With 1:54 to go, Heath made a layup and the Spartans were again ahead. A three-pointer by WashU put the Bears ahead 67-66 with 1:29 to go. McConico made a layup in the lane with 1:01 left to give the Spartans a one-point lead, though with 46.5 seconds remaining, a WashU three-pointer put the visitors on top 70-68.

To start the game, the Bears took an early 8-3 lead, but the Spartans used a 9-2 run, capped by a three-point play from Lawrence, to go on top 12-10 midway through the first quarter. The teams traded the lead over the next few minutes with WashU eventually using a 7-2 run to take a 20-16 lead at the end of the quarter.

CWRU cut the deficit to just two early in the second quarter, but WashU opened a 27-20 lead midway through the period. Two free throws from Mills cut the Spartans' deficit to three with three minutes to play in the half. The Bears ended the half on a 10-2 run, leading 39-28 at the end of the second quarter.

CWRU shot 41.2% from the field, including 55.6% in the second half alone, while holding WashU to just 39.7% shooting for the game.

The Spartans wrap up their season-long six-game home stand on Sunday, January 19 when they host the 14th-ranked University of Chicago at 2 p.m.