LYNCHBURG, Va. – Despite bouncing back from an 18-point deficit in the fourth quarter to tie the game, the Randolph College women's basketball team dropped a heartbreaking 56-53 Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) game to top-ranked conference opponent Guilford College on Wednesday evening.
"To be down 18 with 1:38 left in the third quarter against a team like Guilford, and come all the way back with a shot to win the game, is an incredible representation of our potential as a basketball team," stated head coach Andrea Kendall. "I am extremely proud of our family tonight."
After a tough first half, the WildCats were down 45-28 at the end of the third quarter but managed to claw their way out of the point gap off a 17-2 run as they took Guilford to the wire, making it an even 47-all game with 4:31 remaining on the clock. Despite the Quakers' best efforts to shake off the WildCats, Randolph trailed by no more than two points until Guilford secured a 53-49 lead with under two minutes left to play.
The Quakers had a chance to increase their point margin but missed two free throws, allowing Randolph to snatch the defensive rebound and take it down the court where it found the hands of Sara Bane (Blue Ridge, Va./Lord Botetourt) for a made layup, trimming the deficit to 53-51. As time ran down, Dominique Jackson (Greensboro, N.C./Ben L. Smith) added to the WildCats' score with a made basket of her own, forcing Guilford to call a timeout with the game at 53-all with under 15 seconds left.
With four seconds remaining on the clock, Guilford connected the three-point shot they had been searching for but Randolph was quick to call its own timeout to advance the ball down the court. The WildCats tried to send the game into overtime as Amber Garrett (Stephens City, Va./Sherando) floated a three-pointer to the basket but the ball would bounce off the rim as the buzzer sounded, securing the 56-53 victory for the Quakers.
"Our ball movement was much better and we took better quality shots than we have in the past. The only scoring difference on the stat sheet was that Guilford made three more free throws than us – that's it," stated Kendall. "Our zone defense looked as good as it ever has tonight but it also allowed Guilford to pull down 12 offensive rebounds which ultimately gave them 13 second chance points. If we had rebounded better tonight – we would have won that game."
Four WildCats concluded the night with double-figure points as led by Garrett's 12 points. Yanessa Cabrera (Manassas, Va./Stonewall Jackson) and Jackson recorded 11 points each while Bane finished the night with a career-high 10 points and a team-high six steals. Cabrera and Bane also dished out five assists apiece while Elizabeth Ellen (Mechanicsville, Va./Hanover) pulled down a team-high seven boards.
"Sara Bane was phenomenal. She brings a relentless work ethic every game and tonight, she never stopped fighting. Yanessa and Amber both bring us incredible energy and effort every game; but, tonight – they both showed that while undersized, they have grit and determination," said Kendall. "Yanessa pulled rebounds over kids who were a foot taller than her. Amber fearlessly drove to the basket and scored on kids, again, who were a foot taller than her. We've been working tirelessly to improve as a team and I was happy to see that hard work come to fruition tonight."
Randolph falls to 4-18, 2-13 ODAC and are back on the court on Saturday, Feb. 9 when it hosts conference foe Emory & Henry College at 2 p.m.