Despite a dramatic last-second shot to force overtime, a trip to the ODAC Championship game was not to be for the Eastern Mennonite women, as they fell 62-59 Saturday afternoon to third-seeded Guilford.
The Royals had beaten GC twice during the regular season, but couldn't come up big in the most important meeting of the year. EMU, ranked sixth in the most recent South Region rankings, now clings to hope for an at-large bid to the NCAA National Tournament. The selection show will be webstreamed Monday at 2:30pm.
Stephanie Rheinheimer (Manheim, PA/Lancaster Mennonite) forced overtime with a three pointer from the right wing with :00.1 seconds left in regulation. The women never looked in sync in overtime, however, and couldn't catch a break late. The Quakers' Jaclyn Nucci (Gambrills, MD/South River) missed the front end of a one-and-one with 2.5 seconds left in OT, but GC threw down suffocating defense and stifled Keyla Baltimore (Bristow, VA/Brentsville District) from even getting off a halfcourt attempt before the final horn sounded.
Eastern Mennonite led by as many as six in the first half of the game, including at 24-18 heading into intermission. The women held ODAC Player of the Year Gabby Oglesby (Winston-Salem, NC/Mount Tabor) scoreless in first half on 0-4 shooting.
Oglesby got going quickly in the second, scoring eight quick points as the Quakers surged ahead 31-26. The Royals settled down and got back in front, 34-33, on a three pointer from Rheinheimer.
A few minutes later, a 6-0 run pushed the lead to 42-37 and triggered a GC timeout with 10:17 remaining. Marla Young (Fishersville, VA/Wilson Memorial) hit a triple to edge the advantage to six at 45-39 with 9:27.
As time trickled down, Guilford solidified and used a 7-0 run to zip ahead 51-50 on an Oglesby jumper with 3:33 to go. Points were few over the closing ticks, and GC went up by three on a Jazlyn Gibbs (Greensboro, NC/Southeast Guilford) bucket with 1:09 left.
The final minute of regulation had a lot of action but little scoring. The Royals had a shot blocked and missed a long three pointer. Guilford missed two front ends of a one-and-one to leave the door open. After a defensive rebound, EMU turnover the ball over, but stole it right back on the ensuing inbounds with 8.3 left. Rheinheimer then rolled in the game-tying three pointer to force OT.
Guilford scored first in the extra session and never trailed, but there was plenty of excitement again as the two tired teams traded missed opportunities. The Quakers pushed the lead to 62-59 with an amazing offensive rebound and assist from Nucci with 41.4 seconds left.
Kala Yoders (Myerstown, PA/ELCO) missed a shot with 31 seconds left and then missed two free throws after an offensive board. Young grabbed the offensive board, but the senior's three pointer with nine seconds left rimmed out.
After yet another offensive rebound, Shakeerah Sykes (Dumfries, VA/Forest Park) missed the front end of two charity tosses with 3.4 ticks to go. She needed to miss the second, but crossed the free throw line to turn the ball over. Nucci then missed the third front end of a one-and-one for Guilford with 2.5 left, but the Royals had run out of gas.
Coach Kevin Griffin was disappointed that his women let one slip away.
"I give Guilford credit because they're a good team, but I'm just frustrated because I don't think we played close to what we were capable of," he said. "I'm sure Guilford had something to do with that, but that's what I'm most frustrated about."
He also pointed out that not having Ygarza available for overtime hurt the team. The All-ODAC First Teamer fouled out with 16 seconds left in regulation.
Eastern Mennonite shot just 31% from the floor including 5-for-20 from three point range. After going 8-for-11 from the free throw line in the first half, the women went 2-for-7 over the final 25 minutes, including 1-for-6 in overtime.
Guilford shot 41%, but just 2-for-13 from outside and 4-for-9 from the stripe.
Rebounds and turnovers were essentially even, with EMU having one more of each.
Ygarza led all scorers with 18 points and had eight rebounds. She also had three steals. Rheinheimer drained a trio of threes and came in with 15 points.
Baltimore had seven points and three assists. Young topped the Royals with four assists. Yoders had eight boards and three assists.
Oglesby led Guilford with 16 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots. All her scores were after halftime. Gibbs also had 16 counters. Nucci contributed 13 rebounds and six assists.
While the Quakers advance to the ODAC Championship to take on top-seeded Virginia Wesleyan on Sunday, the Royals fall to 22-4 and wait on Monday's selection show. Eastern Mennonite tied the program record with a 17-3 record in ODAC play during the season.