Concordia’s Nicole Fu poured in a game-high 26 points and Karen Carney added 21 more as the visiting Eagles squeezed by The Master’s College 82-80 in overtime Saturday evening in Bross Gym.
On a night when they could have taken over sole possession of first place in the GSAC with Vanguard losing at Biola, the Mustangs fell to 3-1 in conference play and 6-2 overall. The loss also dropped the Mustangs into a five-way tie atop the GSAC.
Fu, who tortured the Mustangs all evening, tallied the game’s final point on a free throw with four seconds left in the extra period. That followed teammate Patrice Hunter’s go-ahead bucket (81-80) with 1:59 remaining. Fu missed her second shot and following a timeout, TMC’s Ella Joines’ three-point attempt at the buzzer rimmed out, leaving the Mustangs and a partisan crowd deflated.
Concordia (5-3, 2-2), not acting like a squad that the Mustangs have dominated (7-1 over the past four seasons) in recent years, came out firing and Fu was at the center of the action. She drained a pair of three-pointers in the game’s first three minutes and her jumper with 13:56 left in the half gave the Eagles an 18-11 advantage.
The margin grew to 21-13 when Tyler Howard hit a trey with 11:45 left before the Mustangs put a 9-4 spurt together that drew them to within three (25-22) almost four minutes later. A Lindsey Levanen layup got the club rolling and Theresa Brown capped it off with a three-point play at the 8:07 mark.
But, Howard netted another three-ball and when Camesha Hunter and Patrice Hunter converted a pair of free throws apiece, the Eagles had ripped off seven straight points for their largest lead (32-22) to that point. A Joines’ three-pointer stopped the streak but Priscilla Henry’s layup with 5:07 left in the half gave the Eagles their largest lead (36-25) of the game.
Another Joines’ three-pointer cut the deficit back to single figures but the Eagles were still up 39-30 following a Carney three-point play. That’s when the Mustangs started to figure things and junior forward Morgan Schwegler led the way. She started with four consecutive free throws, hit a jumper to slice the deficit to 39-36, and finished off the 10-2 run with another jumper, pulling the Mustangs to within 41-40 at the 1:12 mark.
Howard countered with a free throw but Lauren Labat hit one from behind the arc to give the Mustangs their first lead (43-42) since the opening minute before Fu sent the teams to the locker room tied at 43 with a free throw.
Fu, Carney, and Howard had 11 points apiece at the break as the Eagles shot 48% from the field while the Mustangs converted at a 55% clip with Schwegler (12 points) and Joines (11) leading the way.
The late burst by the Mustangs set up a see-saw second half that featured seven ties and four lead changes en route to overtime. The Eagles enjoyed their largest lead (55-51) of the half after a Fu layup with 13:05 remaining while the Mustangs stretched things out just a tad more when Theresa Brown’s layup at the 7:42 mark made it a 67-62 game.
Brown’s bucket completed a 10-2 run that put the Mustangs in apparent control but Eagles didn’t fold as they had done before in Bross Gym. Fu saw to that, scoring five consecutive points to knot the score at 67 with 6:28 left to play.
Inge responded with a driving layup that resulted in a three-point play and the Mustangs held the lead for three minutes before Carney drilled a game-tying (74-all) jumper with 3:12 showing on the clock. Joines responded with a layup 10 seconds later but the Mustangs didn’t score again in regulation. The Eagles weren’t much better but Carney’s layup with 2:01 left knotted the game once again.
Inge missed a shot with three ticks left on the clock and Schwegler just couldn’t get the offensive rebound up fast enough to beat the buzzer and the clubs went to overtime.
In the extra period, Fu (free throw) and Carney (jumper) gave the Eagles a three-point lead but Brown converted a free throw and Inge buried a trifecta to put the Mustangs up 80-79. But, once again, the Mustangs experienced another period-closing drought, failing to score again while Hunter and Fu combined to give their team the win.
Besides Fu and Carney, the Mustangs also had to deal with poor shooting from the line. After hitting 7-9 from the stripe in the first half, the Mustangs went 6-15 the rest of the way, including a 1-6 showing in overtime.
On the positive side, Schwegler, who notched another double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Inge combined for 32 points while Joines and Brown pitched in with 13 and 12 points, respectively.
Despite the disappointing results, Mustang coach Dan Waldeck is confident in his team's ability to learn from this loss. "Our team has made big plays in close games through the early part of the season. Tonight we did the same but were bit by poor free throw shooting in the second half and overtime. That's uncharacteristic of us (the nation's No.1 free throw team).
"With new players and new roles, we will continue to improve and be a contender as the year progresses."
After taking a week off for finals, the Mustangs resume action next weekend when they play in the NCCAA West Regional Classic at Simpson University in Redding. On Friday, the Mustangs play Southwestern of Arizona and then play the hosts on Saturday.