JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. - One game down. Survive and advance. In a game with 16 ties and 15 lead changes over 42:56 of play, the lead change with 3:04 remaining in overtime proved to be the difference maker as sixth-seeded LMU sealed the 80-77 overtime win with four free throws from freshman Lindsay Proffitt to upset third-seed Carson-Newman and advance to Saturday's semifinal round of the Pilot Flying J SAC Basketball Championships.
It wasn't easy as neither team led by more than four points. Carson-Newman opened up the game by going out to a 5-2 lead only to see LMU claw back to take a four point lead a few minutes later on a Rachel Griffith three-pointer. The Eagles would cut it to two at the end of the quarter on a pair of free throws by Briana Smith.
LMU once again put the lead at four when Sydney Duggins hit a three-pointer with eight minutes remaining in the half. The teams traded baskets over the next seven minutes before C-N tied the game at 33-33 on a three-pointer by Kelci Marosites with 56 seconds remaining. After a missed three-pointer by LMU, Dasia Maxwell stole the ball and found Sydney Newsome open for the fast break layup as time expired to give the Lady Railsplitters the 35-33 lead at the intermission.
The Lady Eagles quickly tied up the game and later on took a three point lead, only to see Emily Griffith score back to back baskets to reclaim the advantage for LMU. The teams traded baskets down the stretch until Rachel Griffith hit the basket and the free throw to put LMU ahead 54-52.
The teams traded baskets for basically the entirety of the fourth quarter, with LMU grabbing the 70-68 lead on a layup by Maxwell with 1:36 left. Carson-Newman missed a pair of shots, followed by a miss by LMU with 42 seconds remaining. LMU then fouled C-N's Smith on the next possession, and she hit both to tie the game up at 70-70. Proffitt had a three-point attempt as time expired get blocked, and the game went to overtime.
Smith put C-N ahead after they won the tip, but back-to-back baskets by Maxwell gave LMU the 74-72 lead with 3:04 remaining. A free throw by Haris Price cut the deficit to one, but a crucial backdoor cut by Newsome resulted in a pass from Maxwell and the easy layup. Price then cut the lead to one again as she scored with 34 seconds remaining.
The Lady Eagles were then forced to foul, and LMU had three fouls to give, which took about 20 seconds off the clock before Proffitt was sent to the free throw line, where she drained both to make the lead 78-75. After a three by Marosites missed, LMU senior Emily Griffith then wisely fouled before a shot to stop any three-point attempt. Smith hit both but again the Eagles fouled Proffitt, and the freshman hit both. Marosites then again attempted a three-pointer as time expired, but it was no good and LMU held on for the 80-77 win.
Emily Griffith, who recently passed the 1,000 point mark, continued her hot shooting streak as she led all scorers with 22 points, going 10-17 from the field and a perfect 2-2 from the free throw line. Maxwell chipped in 14 points and a team-high six rebounds, while Rachel Griffith added in 10 points.
LMU out-performed C-N in all the offensive categories, shooting 48.5 percent from the field, 26.7 percent from three-point range and 85.7 percent from the free throw line, where LMU was a solid 12-14. Conversely, the Lady Eagles shot 40.3 percent from the field, 18.2 percent from three-point range, and 79.2 percent from the free throw line.
Haris Price led C-N with 19 points and four assists in her final appearance in Holt Fieldhouse, while Smith had 18 points and Kayla Marosites had a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
LMU will face second-seeded Wingate in the tournament semifinal round at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Timmons Arena in Greenville, South Carolina. This will be the fourth consecutive appearance in the semifinals for the Lady Railsplitters, who had never made it to that round prior to the 2015-16 season.
-While Carson-Newman swept the regular season series, the win by the Lady Railsplitters kept C-N from beating LMU three times in a season, a feat that C-N last did in the 1984-85 season.
-LMU will face Wingate in the SAC Tournament semifinal round for the first time and for only the third time ever in the tournament. Their first meeting in the tournament was in the quarterfinal round in 2006-07, in a game between retiring coaches Roger Vannoy (LMU) and Johnny Jacumin (Wingate). The other meeting was in the 2016-17 championship game.
-This was LMU's first overtime game this season. The last OT game LMU played in was on Feb. 24, 2018 when the Lady Railsplitters outlasted Queens 66-58 on LMU's senior night. It is also the seventh overtime game between LMU and Carson-Newman.
-The win caps off a nice 25 hour period for head coach Krystal Evans and the Lady Railsplitters as not only did they knock off their arch-rival in the conference tournament, but on Tuesday evening LMU signee and Cumberland County High School standout Gracee Dishman was named the 2019 Tennessee Class AA Miss Basketball at a ceremony in Murfreesboro. She was one of the three finalists for the award in 2018. Dishman becomes the first (future) LMU player in program history to be named Miss Basketball. Congratulations Gracee!