Nelson’s game-winning buzzer-beater earns QU women spot in GLVC Tournament
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Friday night, during the team dinner for players and parents, Quincy University women’s basketball coach Kaci Bailey gave senior forward Emma Knipe’s parents a solid reassurance more was in store.
“I told them, ‘Tomorrow’s not our last game,’” Bailey said.
A homegrown senior — Quincy native Sarah Nelson — made sure of that.
Nelson scored the first game-winning basket of her career Saturday, getting a soft hook shot to roll in off an inbounds play with 1.4 seconds remaining in regulation to give Quincy a 65-63 victory over Rockhurst at Mason-Halpin Field House in the final Great Lakes Valley Conference game of the regular season.
“For Sarah Nelson to hit that shot, that was big time,” Bailey said. “Big time.”
With the victory comes a berth in the GLVC Tournament for the first time since 2016. Quincy (13-15, 9-11 GLVC) finished eighth in the league’s point ratings system and will face top-seeded Drury at 6 p.m. Thursday in the opening round at Lindenwood University’s Hyland Arena in St. Charles, Mo.
Surviving some final minute drama made it possible.
“Way to keep it exciting, right?” Bailey said. “Holy cow.”
Quincy led 63-59 with 10.2 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter after Nelson made a pair of free throws. Rockhurst wasted just three seconds before Keegan Sullivan buried a deep 3-pointer to make it a one-point game, and then fouled QU’s Janiece Dawson immediately on the inbounds play.
Dawson missed both free throws with 6.1 seconds to play, and Rockhurst’s Allison McFerrin rebounded the second miss, drove the ball up the right sideline and was fouled with 1.4 seconds to go. McFerrin, an 84-percent free-throw shooter, missed the first attempt and made the second to tie the game at 63.
“Not a lot of time to do a lot with it,” Bailey said. “Obviously, we knew they were going to be locked in on Beth (Matas Martin). So we went to Sarah and used Beth as a decoy. We told Sarah she was going to have time for one dribble and be patient. She turned right, took one dribble and shot her kind of little hook shot that she does and it rolled in.
“What a special moment.”
Game officials conducted a video review of the play and ruled Nelson got the shot off before the buzzer, calling the basket give and giving Quincy the victory.
“I hugged her after the game and told her there was no one I’d rather have take that shot,” Bailey said.
Nelson finished with 21 points, while Knipe, a West Hancock product, had 14 points, eight rebounds and three assists. The two seniors — Nelson in her fourth season at QU and Knipe in her third — were part of teams that combined to win 18 games the previous three seasons.
Now, they’re in the postseason for the first time in their careers.
“For them to never have been in a game that matters like that, this is such a special moment for them,” Bailey said.
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