Crazy Comeback Catapults Cougars into Championship

A 23-4 run in the final eight minutes lifted the #10 ICC women’s basketball team to a thrilling 90-89 win over #13 Bryant & Stratton in the semi-finals of the 39th annual Cougar Holiday Tournament on Sunday afternoon at Ramsey Gym.  The Cougars (9-4) looked dead in the water to start the fourth period but used gritty defense, clutch shooting, and a vocal bench to help turn the tide, advancing them into the tourney championship vs. #1 Kirkwood on Monday afternoon at 4:00 pm.


End of 1st quarter:  Bryant & Stratton 25, ICC 20

The Cougars started out well with scores by Maia Marshall, Josi Becker, Camryn Stafford, and a three-pointer by Summer Stoewer to keep pace at 11-all, but B&S was hot from the arc, hitting 5 of 6 long-range bombs in the quarter to take the lead.  Ayanna Gibbs and Sh’coria Metts kept the Cougars close, combining to score 8 points to close out the frame.


Halftime: B&S 49, ICC 43

ICC drew even at 28-all on Camryn Stafford free throws and four points by Gibbs, but the Bobcats’ torrid shooting continued as they went 5-8 from downtown to stay ahead.  Gibbs sprung loose for 8 points in the paint and was helped by Becker, Marshall, & Stoewer on the outside, but the Cougars still faced a five-point deficit.  The Bobcats connected on a mind-blowing 10-14 three’s in the first half (71%) but luckily ICC was getting to the charity stripe, where they hit on 15-16 (94%) to stay close.


End of 3rd:  B&S up 81-64

The Cougars came out of the half determined to defend the three-ball, but the Bobcats made four treys in the first 3 minutes to go up 60-50.  Catora Brown assisted Stafford and Courtney Heffren for scores, but the Bobcats stretched their lead to 72-54 at the four minute mark and took a 17-point advantage into the final period.


Fourth quarter

A Stoewer trey started things off right (assist Metts), but the Bobcats answered with a rare four-point play as ICC fouled on the made B&S three-pointer, giving them an 85-67 lead with 8:35 to play.  But that’s when the “good things happen in threes” adage started working in the Cougars’ favor.  Stoewer splashed in another three-pointer (assist Becker) on a baseline out of bounds play and then made a layup off a Heffren steal to close the gap to 85-72 to start “the run.” Stoewer had a key block defensively, Stafford added a baseline jumper (assist Stoewer) and a steal, and then Stoewer tossed in another three-pointer off a Gibbs offensive rebound, followed by a Becker three (assist Gibbs) as ICC trimmed their deficit to 87-80 with 3:27 left.  The Cougar defense kept the clamps on as a steal by Stoewer led to a Becker layup (assist Gibbs) and four free throws by Gibbs and Heffren drew ICC to within 87-86.  Stafford hit one of two free throws to knot the score at 87-all, but the Bobcats answered with a layup to go up 89-87 with :48 seconds.  Stoewer smoothly hit a jumper with :21 seconds to tie things at 89-all and B&S called timeout.  The Bobcats dribbled out front and Heffren picked the pocket of the Bobcat guard.  She was then fouled with :04 seconds left and hit one free throw to give ICC their only lead of the second half at 89-88.  B&S ran a sideline out of bounds play with 1.2 seconds left, but could not get a shot off before the horn, and the Cougars celebrated the improbable comeback.  


Note:  Bryant & Stratton came into the contest shooting 27% from three-point range, but hit on a phenomenal 65% (15-23) on the day.  The Cougars countered with 24 assists and a 25-30 effort from the charity stripe (83%) to help get the win.


Final stats:

Becker (16 pts/10 asts/6 reb—first career double-double) Hare (1 reb) Brown (2 asts) Ward (3 blks/2 stls) Stoewer (22 pts/5 asts/4 reb/3stls) Stafford (11pts) Marshall (9 pts) Metts (2 pts/2 asts) Heffren (7 pts/4 stls) Gibbs (23 pts-career high/7reb)


Sunday results:

Sinclair 62, Carl Sandburg 57, OT

#2 NIACC 94, Sauk Valley 33

#1 Kirkwood 69, #19 McHenry 38


Monday schedule:

10:00 am Carl Sandburg vs. Sauk Valley (7th place)

12:00 pm NIACC vs. Sinclair (5th place) 

  2:00 pm McHenry vs. Bryant & Stratton (3rd place) 

  4:00 pm Kirkwood vs. ICC (championship)