RENO, Nev. – With her team down a point Weber State senior guard Deeshyra Thomas hit a short jumper with three seconds left in overtime to give the Wildcats a 98-97 win over Sacramento State in the opening game of the 2017 Big Sky Women's Basketball Tournament.
Sacramento State (10-20) saw its season come to an end after leading for 36 and half minutes of the game. The Hornets led by four points with 18 seconds left in regulation but the Wildcats came back to force overtime, then led by a point with 22 seconds remaining in overtime before Thomas hit the deciding shot.
Weber State (13-17) advances to face top-seeded Montana State on Wednesday in the quarterfinal round. The Wildcats and Hornets finished tied for eighth place in the regular season and played a close game on Monday, though the Wildcats only led for three and a half minutes of the game and never led by more than three but kept coming back as the Hornets had several sizeable leads.
With 22 seconds left in regulation the Hornets were ahead 87-85. Junior Justyce Dawson drew a foul and made the first free throw and missed the second but senior Emily Easom grabbed an offense rebound and was fouled with 18 seconds left. Easom made 1-of-2 free throws to put Sacramento State up 89-85.
Weber State got a layup from Tyschal Blake with 15 seconds to play and, more importantly, drew a foul. She missed the free throw but the ball went out of bounds to the Wildcats and Emily Drake made a layup on the ensuing inbounds play to tie it. The Hornets missed a shot that went out of bounds with two seconds left so Weber State was able to inbound again from in front of their bench but Thomas missed a buzzer beater to send the game to overtime.
The teams traded leads early in overtime but the game remained tied at 96-96 with under a minute to play. Sacramento State senior Gretchen Harrigan drew a charge with 42 seconds left to give the Hornets possession and then drew a foul of her own with 22 seconds left. She missed the first free throw but made the second to put the Hornets up one before Thomas hit a jumper from the elbow to giver Weber State a one-point lead with three seconds left.
After a timeout the Hornets inbounded on the Weber State side but a 3-point attempt from junior Maranne Johnson at the buzzer hit off the rim to end the game.
Seniors Harrigan, Ashlyn Crenshaw, and Margaret Huntington all had double-doubles for Sacramento State, the first time that the team has had three double-doubles in the same game since Dec. 29, 2011. Harrigan led the team with 19 points and had 10 rebounds and four assists while Huntington had 13 points and 14 rebounds. Crenshaw had the first double-double of her career in her final collegiate game, totaling 12 points and a career-high 10 rebounds.
Johnson, who was named all-Big Sky third team on Sunday, hit four 3-pointers and totaled 16 points, four rebounds, and three steals. She finished the season with a program-record 93 made 3-pointers, just two shy of the Big Sky single-season record.
The Hornets shot 45% and had a commanding 59-35 rebounding advantage but struggled at the free throw line, finishing 14-of-25 with two critical misses at the end of regulation and another in overtime. Weber State also outshot the Hornets from 3-point range, making 12 while the Hornets hit only 11.
Sacramento State had tremendous starts to each half, jumping to a quick 7-0 advantage and leading 26-14 after shooting 10-of-21 overall and 4-of-11 from 3-point range in the first quarter. The Hornets led 32-21 with 7:31 left in the second quarter but Weber State went on a 17-5 run to take a 38-37 lead. Harrigan hit the last shot of the quarter and the Hornets led 42-40 at halftime.
The third quarter was also a strong one for the Hornets as they shot 50% and went back ahead by as many as 10 points. Sacramento State lead by eight, 70-62, 30 seconds into the fourth quarter, but an 8-0 run by the Wildcats over the next two minutes evened the score. The Hornets were still ahead by five points with less than two minutes to play but Weber State closed regulation on a 9-4 run.
Sacramento State led the Big Sky and ranked seventh in NCAA Div. I with a +6.9 turnover margin during the regular season but was -8 on Monday with 18 turnovers. Weber State outscored the Hornets 21-12 in points off turnovers, negating Sacramento State's 27-18 edge in second chance points.
The Hornets had their season end with a heartbreaking Big Sky Tournament loss for the third straight year. In the 2015 Big Sky Tournament the Hornets pushed Northern Colorado to overtime in the semifinals before an 81-79 loss, and last season the team fell to Eastern Washington in the quarterfinals by a slim 100-97 margin.
Thomas finished with a game-high 25 points shooting 10-of-18. Kailie Quinn hit seven 3-pointers for 23 points with five rebounds and four assists while Blake had 14 points and nine rebounds and Jaiamoni Welch-Coleman had 14 points and nine assists.
Huntington finished her career with 859 career rebounds, fourth most in program history. Senior Brianna Burgos leaves the program fifth in team history with 174 career 3-pointers made. Entering her senior season next year, Johnson is just 18 made 3-pointers behind that program record and is 60 steals behind that program career record.
Seniors Burgos, Crenshaw, Easom, Harrigan, and Huntington ended their careers with a combined 420 games played as Hornets.