Triple-overtime loss sinks Culver-Stockton women into fifth place in conference race


Culver-Stockton's Aaliyah Ortiz tries to shoot the ball with her ponytail covering her face during Saturday's triple-overtime loss to MidAmerica Nazarene. The Pioneers' Jordynn Gonzalez defends on the play. | Photo courtesy of Lisa Wigoda

CANTON, Mo. — The Culver-Stockton College women’s basketball team started the week with a chance to establish itself as a contender for the Heart of America Athletic Conference championship.

Back-to-back losses to two of the Heart’s best teams this week, however, have dropped the Wildcats from second into fifth place in the league.

Saturday’s triple-overtime 80-74 loss to MidAmerica Nazarene was particularly painful. Culver-Stockton took shots in the final 30 seconds of regulation and the first two overtimes to win the game but didn’t convert any of them.

The largest lead for either team in the game was seven points. The score was tied 23 times, and the lead changed hands 22 times.

C-SC had a chance to win the game in regulation time, but Whynter Waterhouse-Brennan turned the ball over with 23 seconds left to play. The Pioneers didn’t get a shot off on their final possession, and the score was tied at 53 entering the first overtime.

Aaliyah Ortiz’s basket with 1:25 remaining in the first overtime put the hosts ahead 61-59. The Pioneers’ Bi’Anna Pettis split two free throws four seconds later, and the hosts missed three shots on their next possession. Trel’Shawn Smith missed a jumper for MidAmerica with 11 seconds to play, and Ortiz was fouled after grabbing the defensive rebound.

Ortiz made her first free throw with seven seconds to go to make the score 62-60, but she missed the second. After Pettis grabbed the rebound, the Pioneers advanced the ball to midcourt. Smith then made a jump shot in the lane with three seconds to play, and Ortiz couldn’t get a shot off before the buzzer sounded on the ensuing possession.

The teams only scored five points each in the second overtime. Smith made two free throws with 1:44 remaining to tie the score at 67. After two turnovers by MidAmerica and a turnover and a missed 3-pointer by the Wildcats, C-SC had the ball in front of its own bench after a timeout with 6.7 seconds remaining. The inbounds pass went to Ortiz, who dished to McKenzie Lathrom in the corner.

Lathrom then whistled a pass in the lane to Megan Diehl for a layup to win the game, but Diehl’s shot didn’t hit the rim as the horn sounded.

Smith broke the scoreless drought in overtime with a 3-pointer, but a layup from Katie Webb and two free throws from Lathrom put the Wildcats back in front 71-70. Pettis and Kiana Ortiz traded buckets as C-SC held a 73-72 lead with 2:25 remaining.

MidAmerica Nazarene then made eight free throws down the stretch. C-SC trailed 76-74 with 24 seconds left when Aaliyah Ortiz missed a running one-handed shot from just outside the lane.

C-SC (11-4) drops to 6-3 in the Heart and now is in fifth place in the 14-team conference, 2 ½ games behind league-leading Central Methodist. Grand View, which defeated C-SC on Wednesday, is in second place, and Clarke and MidAmerica Nazarene now are tied for third.

Webb had 15 points and 13 rebounds for the Wildcats. Lathrom had 12 points and nine rebounds, and Aaliyah Ortiz contributed 11 points and 13 rebounds. However, C-SC turned the ball over 22 times and shot just 32.1 percent (27 of 84) from the field.

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