NCAA Woman’s Tournament – Midnight
Special To The Lehigh Acres Gazette
By: Dick Allen Special Correspondent
Photos By: James Schubert Pro Image Sports Photography
We left you at the tip off. Their six-foot three girl vs. our six-foot three girl.
Good news is Whitney wins the tap. Bad news is we can’t score, nor can they. It looked like there was a lid on our basket. Back and forth we traded missed shots, ours deep in the paint, theirs from outside. Finally the first points, and we are behind. It was close at first, but we always trailed. The missed lay ups and wide open 3′s and just poor shooting slowly took its toll. Soon we found ourselves down by 11 looking like it was on the way to 40. Time to call in the Calvary. Smesko reached into his bag of tricks and found Sophomore guard Stephanie Haas, an Ohio girl with a boatload of family and friends who would soon be going nuts in the stands.
The Cowgirls all but took the wind out of the sails of the Eagle faithful. Things were not looking good. But there was Hass, strapping on her helmet, and putting the Eagles on her back. At one point she scored 10 straight points as FGCU closed the half on a 19-8 run. Inspired, Knight hit a jumper and Cobb added 5 straight points giving the Eagles their first lead of the game with 25 seconds seconds left in the half. A late Cowgirls basket tied the game at the half, 28 all. But the fans were back in the game and so were the ladies.
It looked like “Karma” was testing fan resolve. The Eagles shot just 31% from the floor and a paltry 20% from behind the arc in the first half. But with only 5 turnovers and 2 less rebounds than the taller Oklahoma squad, the Eagles were in the game, and “ol’ Mo” was on our side now!
FGCU continued the momentum from the first half and before everyone could get back into their seats, it was 34-28. Quickly the Cowgirls call a timeout to stem the tide. It was an excellent coaching call as Oklahoma State soon tied the game at 36. Then it happened. A layup by Atwater, consecutive three-pointers from Knight, and then Cobb joining in the run, FGCU soon had the largest lead of the afternoon, 47-40 with 12:22 left showing on the clock. The lead grew to 10, 52-42, with less than 10 minutes remaining in the game. The roof was off Mackey Arena. You could not hear the person sitting next to you.
In the next 1 minute and 43 seconds the air was sucked out of the Arena, quickly it was 52-49. A flicker of hope with Knight’s 3 pointer put the Eagles back up 6 with6:38 remaining. But sadly, we would muster just 2 more points before end of regulation. With 1:51 left in the game, Smesko called timeout. Everyone knew it was time for the Calvary again. Number 12 was coming back into the game. Haas, fidgeting on the bench, was ready to strap on her helmet, and save the second half just like she did in the first half. But … no Hass. OSU went up 57-55 with 47.5 seconds on the clock. We scored again to tie the game and send it into overtime. But “O’l Mo” had left the room.
In the first 4 and one half minutes of overtime, Oklahoma State scored but 2 points while the Eagles scored only 3 points. Miraculously we had a 1 point lead. Before the game Coach said the number 1 priority was to hold down the all-America candidate Tiffany Bias (14.3 avg. points per game). She had only 2 points until the clock had 30.3 seconds remaining. She then drove the lane, and scored on a layup giving the Cowgirls the lead 61-60.
Time out FGCU. Certainly with a half a minute left to play, we are going to see Hass, helmet and all, run the court all the way to the rim and save the day or surely get fouled, or kick it out to Knight or Cobb, but something good is going to happen. That’s what KARMA is all about. But… no Hass! No last shot. No game against Perdue. No “Sweet Sixteen” matchup against number 1 seed Notre Dame. No, time has run out. The clock has struck midnight.