Cougars Rally for Win in Closing Minutes; Place 5th in Nation!

Bailey Larsen nailed three 3-point shots in the final four minutes to rally the ICC women’s basketball team to a thrilling 72-67 victory over North Arkansas College on Saturday afternoon at the NJCAA DII national tournament. The game was a see-saw affair with thirteen ties and six lead changes, but the Cougars closed the game on a 15-6 run to earn a 5th place finish and complete their season-long mission of playing on the last day of the season at the national tournament.

Larsen opened the game with a baseline jumper, followed by a Krystal Walker score and an old-fashioned three-point play by Abby Coates. Larsen nailed a trey (assist Kathy Pinnock-Branford) and then Sia Williams drove the baseline for a layup to put ICC up 12-8. Jasmine Levy scored inside for a 14-10 lead, but ICC got turnover happy, allowing Northark to knot the score at 16-all after the first quarter of play.

The teams were virtually even in the second quarter, as neither team took more than a two point lead. Coates, Pinnock-Branford, and Levy scored early, but Northark was always able to counter. Kennedy Banks, Levy, Coates, and Pinnock-Branford kept the Cougars even with scores but the Pioneers took a 36-34 advantage into the half.

Pinnock-Branford scored first for the Cougars to start the half, followed by a Coates layup and two Larsen free throws to keep the deficit 44-42. Kellyn Maynard scored on a layup, but Northark responded with a small run to forge ahead 49-44 with 3:14 in the third. The Cougars went cold against the Pioneer zone and saw their biggest deficit at 53-46, but a Sia Williams three-pointer in the last minute closed the gap to 53-49 heading into the final stanza.

Levy scored on an offensive put-back and Walker got a basket to knot the score at 53-all, but Northark answered with a three-pointer. Two Madison Faulkner free throws and a nice pass from Coates to Levy inside kept ICC close, but the Pioneers still held a 61-57 edge with four minutes left in the game. That’s when Larsen caught fire, nailing her first three to make the score 61-60. Northark scored on the next possession but Larsen splashed in her second three (assist Pinnock-Branford) to tie the score at 63-all. ICC got a defensive stop and this time Emma Henderson assisted Larsen on her third three-ball in as many possessions, to give the Cougars a 66-63 lead. The Pioneers answered to draw to within 66-65, but Levy got an offensive put-back to make it 68-65 in favor of the Cougars. It was no surprise that Northark answered with a layup to draw to within one at 68-67. ICC in-bounded the ball in front of their own bench and Pinnock-Branford was wide-open layup on the right block (assist Walker) to go ahead 70-67 with :10 seconds left. The Cougars put the clamps on defensively, forcing a jump ball and gaining the next possession, in-bounding the ball to Larsen who made two free throws for the final margin and the exciting win.

Game Goals Met

Met turnover goal
Hold opponent to less than 12 rebounds
Win bench scoring (23-15)
Win bench rebounding (13-3)

Leading post rebounder: Levy (8 reb)
Leading guard rebounder: Pinnock-Branford, Larsen (3 each)

Individual Stats

Larsen (20 pts, 3 reb, 3 st), Levy (14 pts, 8 reb), Coates (13 pts, 7 reb, 3 asts), Pinnock-Branford (8 pts, 3 asts, 1 chg taken), Williams (5 pts), Walker (4 pts, 3 asts, 3 stls), Faulkner (7 pts, 4 reb), Banks (2 pts)

Lots of great things happened on the afternoon:

The Cougars had an awesome week at the national tournament and would like to thank Athletic Director Sue Sinclair, Vice president of Student Affairs Tracy Morris, Athletic Trainer Traci Reach for their help and support during the week. Shout-out to Alex Staab who did audio of each of the games for the fans back home and to our host coaches from the Harrision area, Scott Tennyson and his team at Arvest Bank. ICC student, Alex Staab, was a rock star who did a live audio broadcasts of the team and kept fans informed with interviews and posts on twitter.

We are thankful for each of the young ladies on our team: Kennedy Banks, Abby Coates, Isreal Evans, Madison Faulkner, Emma Henderson, Bailey Larsen, Jasmine Levy, Aubrey Magro, Kellyn Maynard, Kathy Pinnock-Branford, Krystal Walker, and Sia Williams. What a thrill it was to see them grow as a team, work together to reach their goals, and become sisters in the process.