CLEVELAND, Ga. – The Spring Hill College women's basketball team opened its 2011 conference slate on Friday night at Truett-McConnell College and had to rally from a late 9-point deficit to win 66-64 on a last second put back by junior center April Bradford of Pensacola, Fla.
For the second consecutive game the Badgers opened up hot from the outside, making four of their first nine 3-point attempts to take a 22-16 advantage with seven minutes left in the first half, but the Bears rallied to tie the score at 22 with five minutes to go in the period.
Over the final three minutes of the first half, the two teams combined to tie the score on four occasions and traded the lead three times as back-to-back 3-pointers at the 2:08 and 1:10 marks by junior guard LaSheena Nation of Hanceville, Ala., kept the score knotted at 32 going into the intermission.
The Badgers fell down 38-35 just two-and-a-half minutes into the second half after missing their first four shots of the period.
With the Bears finding the range from 3-point land while also connecting on high-percentage lay-ups on the inside, TMC clawed out a 49-40 bulge with 13 minutes remaining.
Spring Hill refused to be turned away, nonetheless, and rallied to pull within six points at 58-52 with six minutes to go.
A 3-pointer at 5:27 followed by two free throws at 5:00 by junior forward Jackie Higgenbotham of Birmingham, Ala., then moved the Badgers to within a point at 58-57 with five minutes on the clock.
Bradford then tracked down an offensive rebound and knocked down a shot from just to the right of the free throw line at 1:58 to tie the game at 61 apiece.
Over the final 1:20 of play the Badgers and the Bears both went 3-of-4 from the charity stripe to leave the game in a 64-64 stalemate and setting up a shot by Spring Hill sophomore guard Tempey Hamilton from Mobile's Murphy High School that was wide of the mark. With just one tick left on the game clock, Bradford came through with the rebound and the put back to seal a thrilling comeback for the visitors.
Nation led all scorers with 32 points in a 12-of-26 performance that included a school record 8-of-16 in 3-pointers.
Bradford also rang up a double/double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
As a team, the Badgers shot 32.4% (23-71) from the floor with a 38.5% (10-26) night from the 3-point line.
Spring Hill out-rebounded TMC 45-44 and also won the battle for turnovers by taking the ball away 19 times off six steals while the Bears benefited from 15 Badger giveaways with just four steals.
The Bears (1-3, 0-1 SSAC) put three players into double digits in scoring led by Alisha Gentry with 18 points while Amber Andrews pulled down 21 boards. TMC shot 37.1% (23-62) and made two of their 10 3-point attempts (20%).
Spring Hill (2-1, 1-0) will travel to Central, S.C., on Saturday to continue this conference road swing with a contest at Southern Wesleyan University (2-2, 0-1) beginning at 4 p.m. EST.