Senior Brittaney Jefferson's steal and layup with 11 seconds remaining in overtime gave the Wilmington College women's basketball team the lead, and they secured the victory at the free throw line, escaping Muskingum's upset bid with the 80-76 overtime win in Ohio Athletic Conference action at Fred Raizk Arena in Hermann Court.
"There were a lot of big plays for us at the end of the game, and obviously, that was the biggest one," said Wilmington head coach Jerry Scheve. "On that play, we took away their first option and we were lucky enough for the pass they did make to come loose a little bit. Brittaney was able to pounce on it, and beat them down the court on the dribble for the layup. After that, I thought we played really smart basketball at the end of the game."
After the Fighting Muskies took their largest lead of the extra session, three points with 30 seconds remaining, Wilmington's defense didn't allow another point.
Junior Emily Harman (Versailles, OH/Versailles) hit a pair of free throws to cut the lead to one, and following a MU timeout, Jefferson's (Dayton, OH/Chaminade Julienne) play came as the Muskies couldn't catch the inbounds pass. Senior Ja'Cole Tabor (Dayton, OH/Chaminade Julienne) hit a pair of free throws and junior Savannah Hooper (Leesburg, OH/Wilmington) sealed the win by splitting a pair.
The victory, combined with Baldwin Wallace's loss to Ohio Northern, allowed Wilmington reclaimed sole possession of second place.
"It was a win we absolutely we had to have," said Scheve. "Second place is what we are shooting for, and it's obtainable. There is a big difference in this tournament between finishing second and third. In reality, we have to come out and win every game if we want to finish second."
It was win that came with perseverance and the ability to make plays when needed.
"Give Muskingum a ton of credit, they played extremely hard," said Scheve. "There is a reason they have turned it around this year. They have as good as players in this league. That is why they are where they are, and there is a good chance we will see them later in a couple of weeks.
"We came out, for whatever reason, a little flat," Scheve continued. "We didn't seem to have the energy we had the last couple of games, and then I thought we took some ill-advised shots early and they good shot s we took – we didn't make them. So really, I should be happy we were in the game at halftime because we didn't play very well."
Neither team was able to pull away over the first 16 minutes of the game. However, Wilmington opened up a five-point lead late in the second period. But, Muskingum didn't wilt under the pressure of a spurt, scoring 11 of the last 14 points of the half.
"Defensively, they are just a challenge for us," said Scheve. "They have so many ways to score, and they were just breaking us down one-on-one all game long. Thankfully we were able to score enough points to come out on top."
Sophomore Mackenzie Campbell (Cincinnati, OH/Turpin) finished with 19 points, a career-high six assists, five rebounds, one steal and one block to lead the Fightin' Quakers.
Jefferson added 15 points and five rebounds, while Harman contributed 10 points and five boards. Senior Mary Moyer (Martinsville, OH/Clinton-Massie), the league's leading rebounder, pulled down 11 boards.
Wilmington (14-6 overall, 10-3 OAC) travels to John Carroll (5-14 overall, 3-10 OAC) 3 p.m. Saturday at the DeCarlo Center.