Nevada Daily Mail
"I knew if we turned the ball over that it would be a tough night." For the second time in as many nights, the turnover bug bit the Nevada Lady Tigers, making an already tough contest much closer than it needed to be.
Following a 24 turnover performance against Carthage on Wednesday night, the Lady Tigers came back for their second game of pool play in the Nevada Lady Tiger Classic tournament and committed 22 more turnovers, making fans sweat it out until the final 5 seconds of the game before the Lady Tigers secured a 48-43 victory over the Lady Panthers of Raymore-Peculiar.
"We turned it over so much, they were putting so much pressure on our guards, our guards didn't handle the pressure right for us to get the ball inside," Bartlett said. "When we got the ball inside, good things happened."
Good things, indeed.
Senior Tori Dahmer led the offensive effort for the Lady Tigers just one night after playing "sicker than a dog," according to her coach, with 24 points and the majority of those points came in the paint.
"I thought Ashley Shumaker were players of the game," Bartlett said. "I thought they did a great job."
None of those points mattered more than the last two Dahmer scored, however. With 5 seconds left in the game, Dahmer found herself at the free throw line for two shots with her team nursing a three-point lead.
Since everyone in Wynn Gymnasium knew by that time that the Lady Panthers had no fewer than two capable 3-point shooters, the contest was far from over. Dahmer never bowed to the pressure, however, and made both shots, ultimately securing the victory.
"I thought, in the last 30 seconds, we did some situations really well. Switching screens and not trying to give up a 3-point shot there at the end, I thought, was a great job of playing defense there," Bartlett said. "And then, Tori hit two free throws to ice it."
Dahmer was the only player in double figures for the Lady Tigers, but Shumaker came close as she finished with nine. Dahmer also pulled in a team-high 11 rebounds.
The Lady Tigers came into the contest knowing that a win would secure them a spot in the tournament championship, but the Lady Panthers had similar goals in mind. As the contest began, it looked as though head coach Brad Gaines' Lady Panthers would have the upper hand as they took a 13-11 lead into the second quarter.
The Lady Tigers' offense was not to be denied, though, and went on a scoring binge in the second quarter than netted 16 points, while the defense held the Lady Panthers to just eight. That second quarter spark ultimately lifted the Lady Tigers to a 27-21 lead heading into the locker room at halftime.
The second half was a considerably more even affair in which Ray-Pec outscored Nevada, 22-21. That wasn't quite enough, however, and the Lady Tigers ultimately held on for the five-point victory.
"It was a hard-fought win. We stepped up when we needed to," Bartlett said. "It wasn't pretty, but we got a win and I'm proud of the girls."
By the time all was said and done, the Lady Tigers finished the night with the edge in nearly every statistical category. From the field, the Lady Tigers made 14 of 34 shots, while holding the Lady Panthers to just 17 of 56.
The Lady Panthers lost the rebounding battle as well, 38-28, but the major difference in the contest was seen at the free-throw line. The Lady Tigers shot 18-for-25 from the stripe, while Ray-Pec went just 6-for-14.
Taylor Koper led the offensive effort for the Lady Panthers with 20 points. Koper was joined in double figures by Meghan Maher with 10. Despite fouling out of the game with 26 seconds left, Alyssa Janssen proved to be a force on defense for the Lady Panthers as she finished the night with five steals and three rebounds
"Ray-Pec's well-coached," Bartlett said of the opposition. "They've got good athletes."
With the win, the Lady Tigers improved to 11-6 on the year and 2-0 in the tournament. Bartlett's squad is scheduled to be back in action on Saturday, at 3 p.m., in the tournament championship, taking on the winner of tonight's matchup between Blue Valley Southwest and Republic.
When asked who he would rather face, Bartlett didn't show much of a preference. But since the Lady Tigers are already scheduled to play Republic on Monday in their first game after the conclusion of the tournament, he decided Blue Valley Southwest might be the better option.
"Well, I know we're facing Republic Monday, so I guess, Blue Valley," he said. "Give us somebody different."
Tonight's game is the final contest in pool play for the tournament and is set to tip off at 6:30 p.m.