By Mike DeVader, Reinhardt Director of Athletic Communications & Media
WALESKA, Ga. – A missed jumper from point-blank range bounced off the rim and out, helping Reinhardt women's basketball survive a scare at home against Bluefield (Va.) on Saturday afternoon, 65-64, to improve to 2-0 on the young year.
The victory also pushes the Eagles to 2-0 on the season within Appalachian Athletic Conference play.
"We will take an ugly win over a pretty loss every time," head coach Toby Wagoner said. "No doubt, we were very fortunate to come out this game with the victory. Our ladies deserve a lot of credit for another great effort on court but equally as impressive was their ability to persevere and find a way to win. We definitely had some kids step up to make some big shots late or knock down some free throws, so it was a good team win. We struggled to find our rhythm or tempo, but I was really happy to see our team keep its energy and enthusiasm on and off the floor. We all know that the basketball season is extremely long and every game is like riding a different roller coaster, but fact of the matter is all good teams have to find a way to win some games when they are not at their best; but this does not happen if they do not have good leadership, character and work ethic.
Coach Mullins did a great job preparing his team for this game. They had a good game plan and did a nice job of executing it. They certainly deserve a ton of credit and praise. This game could have gone either way and we are very thankful it went our way this time. We will take Sunday off and get back to practice on Monday. We will learn and keep working hard to improve."
The game started slow for Reinhardt as the Rams took a six-point advantage through the first 10 minutes of play as each team was figuring out the pace of play. Both the Eagles and Bluefield settled into the contest in the second period as the quarter was relatively even throughout on the way to a 32-25 advantage at halftime for the visitors.
Reinhardt – and particularly Amberlee Zeller – came out in the third quarter with a renewed focus and went right at the Rams with everything it had. Just over five minutes into the stanza, the Eagles found themselves ahead by four, 38-34, after a 13-2 run to begin the second half.
Bluefield, however, would be able to gather itself and regain the lead on multiple occasions and take a three-point cushion into the fourth quarter at 47-44.
The Rams' momentum would continue into the fourth, as their lead would hit nine on multiple occasions and even hit double-digits at 57-46 with 5:59 remaining on the clock – and again 11 points at 5:23.
Reinhardt began to chip away at the deficit by forcing turnovers and offensive charges, resulting in opportunities for free throws and open baskets. Ashton Sutton hit a 3-pointer and was fouled – but missed the freebie – to get her team within two at 60-58 with just over three minutes left. From there, back-to-back possessions resulted in a lead for the hometown team, but it was soon relinquished with 36 seconds remaining.
Symone Williams would draw a foul and make one free throw, but Bluefield would immediately respond with a bucket to regain the advantage with 11 seconds on the clock. Williams would then drive to the basket again and draw another foul, and this time make both at the charity stripe for a one-point lead.
The Eagles would smother the basketball along the right side of the court but left the paint wide open. However, the Rams would miss the opportunity for the walk-off victory as the wide-open attempt wasn't meant to be.
Three Reinhardt players hit double figures, led by Bethany Headrick's 17 points and 10 rebounds on 8-of-17 shooting. Williams (16) and Catherine Shope (11) followed closely in scoring.
Brittany Burnett had a team-best four assists and three steals to go along with three tallies on offense.
As a team, the Eagles hit 10-for-13 free throws and registered 28 points in the paint.
The club now looks for three wins in-a-row – all inside the AAC – as it hosts the Bears of Truett-McConnell (Ga.) on Nov. 13 at 5:30 p.m.
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