JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – After mounting a late, furious comeback to force overtime, Anderson University women’s basketball was unable to capitalize on the extra minutes, falling 89-80 in overtime to South Atlantic Conference opponent Carson-Newman Wednesday evening at Holt Fieldhouse.
The Trojans found themselves down 10 points with 8:06 remaining in the contest and clawed back into the game, facing just a three-point deficit with 52 seconds left. In its final possession in regulation, junior Lesley Woods knocked in a long 3-point basket to even the game at 76-76, eventually forcing an overtime period.
After Woods gave Anderson its first advantage of the game with the extra period’s first field goal, Carson-Newman regained the momentum, outscoring the Trojans 13-2 for the remainder of overtime, putting the game out of reach.
With the setback, Anderson moves below .500 in SAC play at 9-10, which slots the Trojans in seventh-place, joining Coker with an identical league record. Carson-Newman, which has now won two straight after suffering six straight losses, improves to 11-8 in league play, a game behind Lincoln Memorial for third place.
After leading all scorers in the first half with 13 points, junior Sierra Simpson was held to just two points for the next 25 minutes, as she finished with 15 points, three shy of tying her career mark of 18. The junior also posted a team-high six assists with seven rebounds and three steals.
Woods went the opposite way compared to Simpson as she went into halftime with just three points and eventually closed the contest with a team-high 16 points, highlighted by four 3-pointers. After hitting just one 3-pointer in her last two games, Woods has now made at least three 3-pointers in 13 of AU’s 25 games.
Also posting double figures was junior Jasmine Franklin, as she closed with 11 points in 34 minutes. The 11 points marked the first time since Anderson’s 75-67 win over Tusculum on Feb. 5 that Franklin has scored in double digits. Franklin also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds as the Trojans out-rebounded their opponent 46-39 for the contest. Sophomore forward Jennifer Monroe followed with 10 points, breaking an eight-game hiatus from scoring 10 or more points.
“This was a tough road loss,” Anderson head coach Jimmy Garrity said. “I thought we did a good job on the boards grabbing 21 offensive rebounds and out-rebounding them by eight.”
Despite recording four players in double figures, the Trojans shot 28-for-80 from the field for 35 percent, after posting a season-high 55.7 percent against Mars Hill on Monday. AU’s opponent for the night shot 44.3 percent (27-for-61) from the floor and capitalized on their trips to the free throw line, closing the evening shooting 83.8 percent (31-for-37) compared to Anderson’s 79.2 mark.
Leading the Eagles was point guard Jai Jai McLaughlin with a game-high 17 points, eight rebounds and matching Simpson’s tally of six assists. McLaughlin, who is the only player this season with a triple-double in the conference, went 4-for-11 from the field, but made 8-of-10 free throws in 38 minutes of action. Tatum Burstrom, a Preseason All-SAC Second Team honoree, posted 15 points on 6-of-16 shooting.
Following the duo was Lashawnda Peacher with 14 points with 10 coming from the free throw line and Kaitlyn Cupples with 10 points.
After Anderson jumped out to a hot start against MHU on Monday, the roles were reversed at the start of this evening’s game as Carson-Newman stormed out to an 8-0 run to begin the contest. Burstrom, who scored the second basket in the run, capped off the spurt with a 3-pointer, forcing Garrity to call a timeout.
The Eagles continued to add to their lead, eventually taking a 12-point advantage with a 6-2 run as AU opened the first five minutes shooting 1-for-7 with a pair of turnovers. Facing the cold-shooting the large deficit, Simpson cut into the C-N lead with back-to-back baskets bringing the score to 14-6.
Facing a nine-point deficit after sophomore Katie Davis chipped in her only field goal of the half, McLaughlin answered and grabbed Carson-Newman largest advantage of the period with a 3-pointer, increasing its lead to 28-16 with 8:37 remaining.
Anderson would come as close as seven on three different occasions, but never came within striking distance and after facing a 45-35 deficit at halftime. For the half, the Eagles shot 64 percent (16-for-25) and went 10-of-11 from the free throw line as the 45 points was the most points given up by the Trojans for a first half this season.
In the final half, Woods brought the Trojans within six with a 3-pointer only to see the deficit climb back up to 10 when McLaughlin knocked in a jumper. Anderson responded with back-to-back field goals from Franklin and Davis, but it was quickly brought back to 10 with 11:14 remaining when C-N’s Taylor Peterson made 1-of-2 free throws.
After Eagle Whitney Kyle made both of her free throws at the 8:06 mark to increase their lead to 66-56, Anderson began its comeback with an 8-2 run as the Trojans went 5-of-6 from the line over the next three minutes, bringing the score to 68-64.
With Franklin dropping in a lay-up with 2:10 remaining, the Carson-Newman lead was just three points. McLaughlin misfired on the opposite end and freshman Heather Jankowy was fouled on the ensuing possession, sending her to the line. The freshman made both free throws to bring AU within one for the first time in the contest.
Carson-Newman’s Lacy Miller made both free throws with under a minute remaining, bringing the score to 76-73 before Woods would send the game to overtime with her late 3-pointer.
“I was really proud of the effort in the second half,” Garrity said. “After giving up 45 points in the first half and being down by 10, we did a much better job defending and making plays to force the game into overtime. There is much to be learned from this game and we will put this behind us and get ready for another big road game this Saturday.”
Anderson is now an even 1-1 in overtime games, partaking in its first overtime game since Nov. 9, 2013 when it went into an extra five minutes against Lander on the final day of the Holley Tractor/Crescent Automotive Conference Challenge in Aiken, S.C. The Trojans eventually captured the win, 85-81 for their first overtime win since defeating Mars Hill, 76-68, on Feb. 2, 2013.
The Black and Gold will break away from its deadlock with Coker on Saturday when they head to Hartsville for a 2 p.m. tip-off.