MISSION — A run of eight consecutive missed Nixyaawii free throws in the second overtime period helped Echo survive a Big Sky Conference scare on Saturday, 60-54.
With the score knotted at 45-all after the first four-minute overtime still wasn’t enough to decide a girls’ basketball winner, both teams returned to the court in double bonus for fouls. One team would shoot 4-for-5 from the free throw line in the period, the other 0-for-8.
“It was gut-wrenching,” Nixyaawii coach Jeremy Maddern said of the final minutes of Saturday’s loss. “I felt bad for my kids because it’s hard to lose a game like that. When you miss that many free throws, there’s not much you can say as a coach.”
Nixyaawii was 6-of-23 overall from the free throw line.
With Nixyaawii ahead 49-48 in the second OT, Echo’s Evangalyn Marcum sunk a 3-pointer that gave her team the final lead change of the game. Her shot sparked the start of an 8-0 run for the Cougars that would point to victory, but it wasn’t her first crucial long shot of the extra time.
Marcum also hit a long 3 with 25 seconds left in the first overtime that helped Echo erase a five-point deficit. Katelyn Elligson stole the ensuing inbounds pass and Elizabeth McCarty tied the game at 45-45 with two free throws.
The Cougars’ enthusiasm didn’t last long though as another stolen inbounds pass and foul sent McCarty back to the line for two shots and just 1.9 seconds on the clock. Neither of those charity shots would fall and Echo went to the bench worried it had missed its golden chance against the Golden Eagles.
“It was really suspenseful, crazy, nerve-racking at times,” Marcum said. “You can get really overwhelmed because both the teams, we both wanted it so bad.”
While that string of events left the Cougar faithful shaking their heads in disbelief, a similar set of circumstances left Nixyaawii fans with remnants of joy left to pick up.
Echo held a 35-33 lead in the fourth quarter’s waning seconds before Sharice Queampts tied it with a 10-foot jumper. Before the Golden Eagles could retreat all the way to the other end for defense, Charlotte Barkley had already stolen a pass and finished it with a layup, two of her game-high 18 points. A two-point lead and eights seconds still ticking off the clock, the deafening celebration noise suddenly vanished when McCarty reeled in a long pass and hit her own layup at the buzzer to re-tie the game for overtime.
“We kept finding ways to keep them involved and in the game and at the same time we found ways for us to stay alive,” Echo coach Derrek Lete said of the contest’s rapid lead changes. “It was definitely a high and low kind of game.”
The Cougars, who trail Big Sky East’s No. 2 Ione by a game, face league last-place team Helix on Friday with a chance to try and put some more distance between themselves and Nixyaawii.
The Golden Eagles’ road to rebound is full of major hurdles. Nixyaawii has just two more conference games before the season is through. Both must be wins and then the team needs some luck on its side with Echo losing all of its remaining games.
Elligson and Ashley Chandler each had 14 points to lead Echo. Marcum scored 11 and McCarty nine, the latter also pulling in 23 rebounds.
Contact AJ Mazzolini at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0839.