Fourth quarter scoreless drought dooms Lady Tigers, Clinton prevails 39-36
It was deja vu for the Nevada Lady Tigers basketball team Tuesday night at Wynn Gymnasium.
In a nearly identical ending to their season-opening 41-36 loss to St. Pius X, Nevada again relinquished a late lead as the visiting Clinton Lady Cardinals closed out on a 6-0 run to secure a 39-36 West Central Conference victory. The loss moves Nevada to 2-3 overall and 0-2 in WCC-play.
“What it came down to was shooting the basketball, and it didn’t happen tonight,” said Lady Tigers head coach, Brent Bartlett. “But I’m very pleased with our effort, it just comes down to not shooting the basketball very well.”
Trailing 31-24, the Lady Tigers closed out the third quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers. Point guard Calli Beshore knocked down the first, followed by a Hailey Jackson trey from the left corner with 5 seconds remaining in the third, trimming Clinton’s advantage to 31-30.
The Lady Tigers continued to sizzle from beyond the arc as Beshore opened the final frame with a triple from the right wing, handing Nevada a 33-31 edge. Clinton standout center Mia Mills then tied the contest at 33-apiece with a lay-in.
Nevada quickly struck back as Beshore buried another trey, putting Nevada in front 36-33 with 4:45 remaining. Clinton shooting guard Tamika McClain then scored on back-to-back driving lay-ins, handing the Lady Cardinals a 37-36 lead.
A golden opportunity for Nevada to regain the lead slipped away when sophomore forward Lindsay Phebus was off-target on a lay-in from the right block with 35 seconds remaining.
Clinton senior guard Alaina Pogue was then sent to the charity stripe, where she missed the font-end of a 1-and-1, but was again fouled after corralling the long rebound. This time Pogue delivered, knocking down both free throws.
After a full timeout Nevada inbounded from half-court with 9.7 seconds showing on the clock. Clinton’s stifling half-court defense forced Beshore to settle for an off-balance 3-pointer from the left wing as time expired. “It’s hard to get a play run with 9 seconds,” said Bartlett. “We tried a quick-hitter, ran a pick-and-roll with two shooting guards and it just didn’t happen.”
It was a tough ending for Nevada, as they were held scoreless for the final 4:45 of regulation.
For Clinton, Mills concluded with 17 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks — all game-highs.
“She was a handful,” said Bartlett. “She gave us fits, but we did the best we could.”
“We’ve got to get more scoring from our post players,” said Bartlett in his postgame radio interview. “Right now, they’re putting so much pressure on our guards, and we’re not posting up like I want. I’m going to challenge our post players, I’ve been trying to challenge our post players. We’re young in that area, and I really think we’re going to get better.”
A major bright spot for the Lady Tigers was the play of freshman combo guard Alison Bower. Bower scored her first career varsity points on a free throw in the second quarter. Later in the second the sweet-shooting southpaw swished a 3-pointer, and on the next possession crossed over her defender and scored on a driving lay-in. Bower also drilled a third-quarter three, finishing with a varsity-career high 9 points.
“I can see in practice that she’s getting better and better,” said Bartlett. “She’s understanding our system, what we want offensively and defensively. She’s feeling more and more comfortable playing at the varsity level. Her and (freshman) Brinna Ream did a tremendous job coming in off the bench."
Added Bartlett: “Clinton has eight seniors, I thought their experience paid off a bit.”