When the Asbury Eagles hit consecutive treys midway through the first half they took a 21-19 lead over the visiting St. Catharine College Patriots. The Eagles (1-2) would hold that lead until a fierce second half St. Catharine rally gave the Patriots an advantage with 23 seconds left en route to an 82-78 victory.
St. Catharine (2-0) fell behind 41-32 at halftime, trailed by as many as 14 points in the second half and still faced a 62-51 deficit with 7:22 left in the game. That is when senior Reilly Poirier, who scored a career high 35 points, started the comeback.
Poirier made two free throws to cut the Eagles’ lead to single digits. The 5-11 forward scored 16 of her points in that final 7:22 and, coupled with two big 3-pointers from forward Rianne Hofstraat, the Patriots rallied and finally took the lead, 78-77, when sophomore guard Heather Sandlin scored in the lane with nine seconds to play.
Poirier made two free throws with four seconds to play and, after Trenia Barbee’s free throw for Asbury cut the lead to 80-78, Poirier nailed down the win with two more free throws with one second left on the clock.
Three other Patriots joined Poirier in double figures as junior Alexiss Griffin had 15, Sandlin 14 and Hofstraat 13.
St. Catharine, led by Poirier’s 10 rebounds held a slight 40-38 edge on the boards. Griffin added nine rebounds and Sandlin, at 5-4, grabbed seven caroms.
After shooting just 30 percent from the field in the first half, the Patriots were 15-30 in the second period and finished at 40 percent for the game. The Eagles, led by Barbee’s 27 points, shot 42 percent from the field. Asbury was 74 percent (20-27) from the foul line while the Patriots were 29-37 for 78 percent from the charity stripe.
Next up for the Patriots is Tuesday’s game at Bethel University in McKenzie, Tenn. Bethel will bring a 2-0 record into the contest and a pre-season ranking of 22nd in the NAIA.