ARLINGTON, Va. – The No. 18 Marymount University women's basketball team led for under six minutes on Monday night, but it was the final six minutes of the contest, battling back from an 18-point deficit to Randolph-Macon College to win a thrilling 66-65 game in the Converse Family Fieldhouse.
The Saints (1-1) were looking for redemption against the Yellow Jacket squad that handed MU a season-opening loss last season, with big contributions coming for Macon's First-Team All-American, Kelly Williams. On Monday night, they held Williams, who was announced as a preseason First-Team All-American by D3hoops.com and the preseason National Player of the Year by Women's Basketball DIII News, to just 16 points. It was the fewest points by Williams in a game since January 9 when she was held to 15 points at Eastern Mennonite University; Williams averaged 25.4 points per game last season to lead the country.
Limiting her touches on the ball played a big factor, but the ultimate factor in the victory for the Saints was their intensity on defense. Marymount forced the Jackets into 28 turnovers, which included 15 steals and several 10-second backcourt calls. The intensity helped the squad close an 18-point deficit that was built up by the 4:54 mark in the second quarter.
The offense was found at that moment in the game, as the Saints closed out the half and continued it into the second half with a 20-2 run, including 15-straight points, the best scoring run of the night for the Saints. By the 8:06 mark of the third quarter, Marymount tied the game at 37-37 following a steal by senior guard Tyffani McQueen and a layup by freshman forward Katie McShea on the other end.
McShea was a significant part of the 20-2 run for the Saints, scoring eight of the points en route to her 15-point night inside the paint against Williams, who was also the second in the country last season in rebounds (18.2) and third in blocked shots (4.07).
Although the Saints fought back into the game, the Yellow Jackets answered the Saints' run with one of their own, going 12-straight to build up a 51-39 advantage with 3:31 left in the third quarter. By the end of the period, a back-and-forth battle had junior guard Regan Lohr drain one of her six three-pointers to get the deficit to single digits, as Marymount trailed 56-47 headed into the final 10-minute stretch.
Opening the fourth quarter on an 8-1 run, the Saints closed the gap to just two at 57-55 with 7:50 left, drawing a Macon timeout. Although the Jackets scored a jumper, the lead changed in favor of the Saints after a layup by McQueen and back-to-back three-pointers by Lohr to take a 65-61 advantage at 4:48.
Two free throws at the 4:14 mark by the Jackets closed it to a two-point gap before a scoring silence went on for over two minutes. McShea broke the drought with a free throw at 2:00. Williams had some key free throws in the closing two minutes rim out but hit a layup with 58 seconds remaining to draw the Jackets within one, 66-65.
However, the Saints held strong in the closing minute. Although Marymount had two opportunities on its end with a missed layup, an offensive board, and a three-point attempt, the Yellow Jackets grabbed the rebound with six seconds remaining and a timeout.
Advancing the ball to half court, Macon came into a strong defensive front of the Saints, trapping the ball in the right corner of the court where the Jackets heaved up an overly-contested shot that didn't make it to the basket as the horn sounded.
The Saints were led by a game-high 24 points by Lohr, dropping in 6-of-9 from beyond the arc. McShea added 15 points, and McQueen chipped in 13. McShea added eight rebounds, including five on the offensive end.
Of the 15 steals, six different Saints contributed led by McQueen's game-high five.
As a team, the Saints shot 8-for-12 from beyond the arc and 12-for-14 from the charity stripe.
Marymount will look to carry this momentum into its Pablo Coto Tip-Off Tournament on Friday and Saturday. The Saints take on Elmira College in the opening game Friday at 5:30 p.m.