By Mike Pilosof
Photos by Adam Shrimplin
Garden City, KS-Charinee Mitchell had a message to her team before Saturday afternoon's tilt with Independence: get all the rust out in the first quarter. After that, let's get going.
Well that rut that she spoke of lasted a little longer than Mitchell would have liked, but in the end, Talia Roberts' heroics in the second half made a sloppy start a distant memory.
The sophomore guard scored all 22 of her points in the second half and overtime, Daz'Monique Johnson added 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Garden City stormed back from 15 down to beat Independence 76-75 at Conestoga Arena.
"There was never a time in this game where I looked up and thought that we couldn't come back," Mitchell said. "You're never out of a game in college basketball."
In theory that may be correct, but a 20-turnover first half, coupled with three poor possessions to start the third quarter, had Garden City (8-6, 3-2) trailing 39-24 90 seconds into the second half.
"We just had to get going," Mitchell said. "
The offense finally did, and Jaleah Bellany canned a triple that trimmed the deficit to 12. After Logan Collyer answered on the other end for the Pirates, Sarah Alsabbaheen drilled a 3-pointer, Dashanae Pajeaud hit two free throws, Johnson converted a three-point play, Bellany hit another long ball, and Roberts put home a floater to cap off a 9-0 run that pulled the Broncbusters to within four, 45-41. They were down seven going to the fourth.
"A game like this shows us what we are capable of," Mitchell said. "We just have to be more consistent."
Independence (6-7, 1-5) stretched the lead back to nine early in the fourth. That's when Roberts took over.
The guard split a pair of free throws before hitting a twisting layup that made it a four-point game. After Brittany Reeves converted back-to-back hook shots to push the Pirates' advantage back to eight, it was Roberts again, knocking down a jumper to make it 59-56 with 4:01 to play. She added a sensational three-point play and two free throws that evened the score at 65.
"Shooters shoot," Mitchell said. "I told her to keep shooting."
Despite missing her first seven shots from the field, Roberts saved her best for last. With her team down two and five seconds on the clock, Roberts pulled up from the wing and splashed home an 18-footer that tied the game at 67-sending the contest in overtime. Then, with her team down two in the extra session, Roberts drifted to the right corner in the final seconds before hoisting a fallaway 3-pointer that was well contested by Jessica Goodluck. Seconds after the shot was released, the lead official called a foul, sending Roberts to the line for three shots. She knocked down all of them, Johnson intercepted the ensuing inbounds pass, and Garden City escaped with a one-point win.
"It's something to build off of," Mitchell added. "We are doing a good job of protecting our house."
Roberts finished 6-of-19 from the floor and 1-of-10 from 3. But the sophomore was money at the line knocking down 9-of-10. Johnson notched her third double-double of the season, Taneigh Boyd scored eight of her 13 in the second half, and Bellany chipped in 11.
Reeves poured in a season-high 29 points and pulled down 11 boards-her seventh double-double for Independence, who lost their third straight game. Mychaell Gray added 14, and Victoria Mikkelsen had 10.