The game came down to a last second attempt from 40 feet by Patriot guard Carol Ruiz-Lopez that went halfway down before rimming out at the buzzer, giving the visiting RedStorm from Rio Grande an 82-81 win Monday night in overtime.
But St. Catharine coach Lena Bramblett is quick to point out that the game should never have been decided by a last second shot. “We did not execute our game plan defensively at all,” said Bramblett whose team lost the Mid-South Conference opener which was the first setback in eight games overall for the Patriots.
Bramblett added, “We knew how they were winning games and that they had two players who could score. And we let those two get 44 points.”
St. Catharine trailed nearly the entire second half, once by as many as nine points, but appeared to have survived when Kasei Evans scored inside off a nice pass from Machera Calhoun with nine seconds left to give the Patriots a 74-72 lead. But with 1.8 seconds remaining, Calhoun was whistled for a blocking call inside and Kaylee Helton tied the game with two free throws.
Neither team led by more than two points in overtime and the RedStorm, (5-2, 1-1) grabbed an 81-80 lead with 54 seconds left. Then following a Patriot turnover at: 34, the RedStorm used the entire shot clock before Helton missed a shot, setting up Ruiz-Lopez’s final shot that just missed.
Courtney Milam led four St. Catharine players in double figures with 16 points. Janae Howard had 15, Rianne Hofstraat 14 and Calhoun 10.
Both teams shot 42 percent from the field but Rio Grande held a huge advantage from the foul line where they were 27-35 while the Patriots were 10-13. The two RedStorm players to which Bramblett referred, Kate Hammond and Kaylee Helton had 27 and 17 points.
The Patriots return to conference play Thursday and Saturday with games at Georgetown and Shawnee State. They are back home Monday at 6:00 to face Berea in a non-conference game.