MOUNT VERNON, Ohio - It was a game that came down to the wire as Camaranne Myles’ running jumper with 1.7 seconds remaining lifted the Cougars of Mount Vernon Nazarene University (5-11, 2-3) past the 23rd-ranked HU women’s basketball team, 63-61, Saturday afternoon at the P.E. Center.
For the Foresters, it marks their second consecutive conference loss as they drop to 2-3 in Crossroads play, 10-6 overall.
Credit Culler’s group for their never-say-die attitude as they rallied back from a double digit deficit late in the contest but ultimately; missed opportunities throughout the contest which included uncharacteristic missed free throws to costly turnovers to crucial missed shots finally caught up with HU as they were denied a gallant come-from-behind win.
Things started off well for the Foresters. Pazia Speed drained a pair of threes in the corner to guide her team to an early 15-7 lead but things quickly went south. Huntington went 11 possessions without scoring to let the Cougars right back in it. Over the six minute span, MVNU went from being down by eight to going up by eight at 23-15 with just over five minutes remaining in the half.
Sarah Miller-Jennings finally broke the drought with a 15-footer to spark a 13-6 run to close out the half during which she and Amelia Recker accounted for all but two of the 13 points to pull the visitors within one at 29-28 by the halftime buzzer.
The first five minutes of the second period was an evenly matched battle that featured three ties and two lead changes. The next five minutes belonged to Mount Vernon as three different Cougars drained a trey to grow the lead to ten at 52-42 by the midway point of the half.
MVNU maintained their double digit lead over the next five minutes until Recker willed her team back in it. Over a four-minute span, Huntington held the Cougars scoreless while Recker accounted for six of the next eight points to pull HU within two at 59-57. Taylor Foley then evened things up at 59-59 when she calmly sank two freebies at the 1:23 mark.
With momentum clearly favoring HU, Melissa Eickholt made sure it didn’t last when she banked in a jumper with the shot clock winding down to give the lead back to the Cougars with less than a minute remaining.
After both teams swapped empty possessions, Pazia Speed maneuvered her way through the lane for a short jumper to force the eighth deadlock of the game at 61-61 with 14 ticks remaining.
It looked like it might take an extra period to determine the winner but a quick timeout with seven seconds remaining set up Myles’ heroic finish to send the Foresters packing.
Recker topped all scorers with a career-best 19 points. She also grabbed six boards, four of which were offensive. Speed finished with 14 points. Miller-Jennings tossed in nine and ripped down a game-high nine rebounds.
Myles came off the bench to pace three Cougars in double digits with 17 points. Amy Daniels and Eickholt added 16 and 12 respectively.
HU won the battle on the boards 37-32, forced 20 Cougar mistakes and outscored MVNU 18-11 from the charity stripe but in the end, it came down to Mount Vernon’s performance from long range. The Cougars connected on eight of their 16 threes to outscore Huntington 24-9 behind the arc.
Things don’t get any easier for the Foresters as they face three Crossroads opponents next week starting with a home contest against Spring Arbor University on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m.