PORTSMOUTH — Down nine with 7:03 to play, the Shawnee State women’s basketball team went on a 14-3 run — taking a 63-61 lead over visiting Thomas More with 36 seconds left in a Mid-South Conference matchup between the two top-10 squads.
However, Zoie Barth hit a pair of free throws with 27 seconds remaining to send the game to overtime, and then nailed a three with 2:04 remaining to put the Saints up for good.
The end result was a 72-67 setback for SSU on Wednesday afternoon at Waller Gymnasium, as the Bears were ranked seventh in the NAIA Women’s Basketball Top 25 poll — while the Saints stood eighth.
In another thrilling matchup between the two perennial powerhouses, Shawnee State and Thomas More battled for control all game, with the duo ultimately posting five ties and 12 lead changes over the entirety of the affair.
Neither team led by more than nine points over the course of the contest.
Shawnee State (9-2, 3-2 MSC) took its largest lead to start the game, forcing a turnover and holding Thomas More (8-0, 3-0 MSC) to 0-of-5 shooting — while getting two quick buckets from Anyia Pride and a three-pointer from Bethany Mackin to establish a 7-0 lead with 7:48 to play in the opening quarter.
The Saints rallied back to take a 13-12 advantage, but a first-quarter buzzer-beating putback by Carson Roney enabled the Bears to exit the opening frame with a 14-13 lead.
After being outscored by a 19-11 margin in the second frame en route to trailing by a 32-25 deficit at the half, Shawnee State attempted to rally back itself — as a bucket by Mackin and an and-one by Pride allowed SSU to cut the deficit to 34-30 with 9:14 to play in the third quarter.
SSU later trailed by as many as eight on two separate occasions in the quarter, but knocked it down to four — 45-41 — on two consecutive Brandie Snow conversions just 20 seconds apart.
Over the final 2:51 however, the Bears were outscored 8-3, allowing Thomas More to take its third eight-point lead of the frame (52-44) to end the quarter.
Down nine after a five-point run was answered with a six-point TMU spurt, Shawnee State’s defense came through in a big way over the final 7:09 of regulation — holding Thomas More without a field goal over the entire stretch to give itself a fighting chance.
Marnae Holland started the run with four consecutive points over a span of 1:08, while Roney and Pride scored eight of the next 10 points to put SSU in front — with Roney’s right corner trey giving the Bears a one-point lead.
Barth’s two free throws then sent the game to overtime, where both teams traded the lead two more times.
However, following a free throw by Holland with 2:54 left, Barth came down two possessions later and drained a trey — starting the game-ending 7-0 spurt by TMU that set the final score.
Despite the setback, Roney and Pride both posted strong performances en route to new career-highs in rebounds and assists — with 19 points, 13 rebounds and four assists for Pride and 17 points, 16 rebounds and five assists for Roney.
The pair combined for a whopping 36 points, 29 rebounds and nine assists in all.
Snow added in 12 points and seven rebounds, while Holland posted eight points and eight rebounds in the loss.
Barth’s 22 points and six rebounds paced Thomas More.
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