The Spring Hill College women's basketball team came painfully close to pulling off a road upset of the Belhaven University Blazers on Monday night, but instead took a 74-72 overtime loss.
In the first half of play neither team could take control of the momentum as the margin never grew by more than a 2-point separation until SHC took a 21-15 advantage off a 3-point basket by senior Kristi Ybarra and two free throws by junior Lynleigh Hughes with 7:23 remaining.
Late turnovers by the Badgers, however, allowed Belhaven to claw back into the game with the final seven points of the half and take a 33-30 lead into the halftime locker rooms.
The second half became a battle between the outside shooting of Spring Hill and the inside game of Belhaven. Despite Belhaven missing all 10 of its 3-point attempts in the game, the Blazer forward duo of senior Jira Williams and sophomore Octavia Mullins kept the pressure on the Badgers.
Sophomore SHC forward Jackie Higgenbotham canned two free throws to tie the game at 42 seven minutes into the second half only to see sophomore guard Karli Kenley answer with a layup on the other end for the Blazers. Seconds later, center Alexis McPhail tied the game at 44 with a lay up for the Badgers as the back-and-forth contest continued.
Turnovers once again reared their heads to haunt the Badgers as the Blazers benefited from two SHC fumbles to take a 50-44 lead with 10 minutes to go.
SHC, however, got off the matt and took a 1-point lead at 54-53 with 7:10 remaining and then the teams found the game knotted at 57 with five minutes on the clock.
Belhaven took a 64-59 lead at 2:42, but SHC senior Robynetta Hargrave drained a 3-point basket to cut the margin to just 64-62 with 1:06 left. A steal and a free throw by Hughes made it a 64-63 contest with 46 seconds remaining and, following a Blazer free throw, Hughes then tied the game with a layup off a Higgenbotham pass with just 4 seconds showing to send the game into overtime.
With the game tied at 70, the Blazers' Brittany Carr scored a basket with 38 seconds left followed 18 seconds later by two free throws from Sarah Carr. McPhail answered for SHC with a layup, but the Blazers would hold on for the 74-72 win.
Hughes and McPhail each had 19 points for the Badgers and Kristi Ybarra finished with 14 points including four 3-point baskets for SHC. Hargrave contributed 13 points and nine rebounds before fouling out with a minute to go in overtime.
Belhaven (12-6, 3-4 GCAC) was led by Williams, Kenley and Brittany Carr with 12 points each and Jessica Barlow added 10 for the Blazers. Mullins pulled down 13 rebounds.
Overall, the Lady Badgers were 24-68 (36.1%) from the field and 6-of-22 (30%) from 3-point distance. Belhaven was 28-77 (37.1%) from the field.
SHC was out-rebounded 47-55 and committed 22 turnovers. The Belhaven defense took away 13 steals from the Badgers while Spring Hill pocketed just three steals and benefited from 18 BU turnovers.
Spring Hill (2-15, 0-7 GCAC) will next travel to Loyola University (11-6, 2-4 GCAC) in New Orleans, La., on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at "The Den."