With 2.8 seconds left in the game, Ball State Cardinals’ Anna Clephane collected an offensive rebound and put it back up to give her team a 54-52 victory over the Lehigh University Mountain Hawks as the inaugural Bahamas Hoopfest got underway inside the New Providence Ballroom at the Baha Mar resort on Thursday.
Clephane scored eight points in the game while pulling down five rebounds including that offensive rebound at the end of the game. The three-day tournament features five teams going head-to-head in women’s basketball in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
This was the Cardinals’ third straight win of the season and Head Coach Brady Sallee couldn’t be more pleased.
“It was everything. We are 4-2 and have won three games in a row,” Sallee said. “It would have been disappointing to take a step back after we have been on a roll a little bit. We knew how good this basketball team was that we were playing. To get a win against a really good team that is going to win 20-plus games this year is going to go far in terms of us going to the postseason.”
The Cardinals had two players who scored in double digits yesterday – Jasmin Samz with 11 points and Thelma Dis Agustsdottir with 10 points.
Leading all players with a game-high 20 points was the Mountain Hawks’ Emma Grothaus. She also had 10 rebounds.
With just about three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Ball State held a 51-47 lead.
An ill-advised foul on Claire Steele with the Cardinals leading 52-50 gave Lehigh an opportunity to tie the game, which they took advantage of.
Steele stepped up and hit both free throws that tied the game at 52. Sallee signaled for a time-out.
The ensuing play was a well-drawn up one, and after a missed shot, Clephane got in front of the defenders and pulled down a rebound and put it back up for the winning basket.
The Cardinals shot 37 percent from the field and made four three-pointers on 16 attempts. The Mountain Hawks shot 30 percent from the field and made six three-pointers on 20 attempts.
“When you come to tournaments like this – and what a beautiful place we are in to play basketball, so we are thankful first and foremost for that – you have to be ready to play,” Sallee said. “I know that this country has been through a lot with the hurricane so we are glad to bring a little bit of joy down here and our kids are inspired to play in front of the Bahamian people.”
Ball State returns to the court at 7 p.m. tonight, taking on the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The Mountain Hawks will play Fordham tomorrow afternoon at 4 p.m.
The first game today gets underway at 4 p.m. with Fordham University taking on the 25th ranked University of Arkansas Razorbacks.
The tournament will culminate tomorrow night with Wisconsin taking on Arkansas at 7 p.m.
Organizers of the tournament hope to bring more exposure to women’s basketball in New Providence, and by extension The Bahamas.