PHOENIX, Ariz. – Arizona Christian University (4-6) snapped a five-game losing skid with a 91-88 overtime victory over La Sierra University (5-11) in collegiate women's basketball victory, Thursday, December 20 action in Fultz Memorial Gym in Phoenix. La Sierra led 54-39 with 15:24 left in the game, but Arizona Christian outscored the Eagles, 40-23, over the next 14 minutes and went ahead 79-77 with 1:23 remaining, and led by as many as four points, 85-81, in the five-minute overtime period.
In Thursday's first half against La Sierra, ACU committed 14 turnovers, missed all eight of its three-point field goal tries, and after La Sierra put together an 11-3 run over the final 3:33 of the half, the Eagles led 45-34 at intermission.
La Sierra stretched its lead to 15 points, 54-39, with 15:24 remaining, but ACU suddenly found its missing three-point shooting with six three-pointers in the second half, cut down its turnovers and overtook the Eagles, 79-77, on a three-pointer by senior guard Paula Clendaniel (Tucson, Ariz./Cienega H.S./York College (Neb.). La Sierra guard Natalia Hawthorne tied the game at 79 with two free throws with 26 seconds left. Clendaniel's 12-foot jumper from the left baseline missed, and senior guard Jessica Largo (Gallup, N.M./Rehoboth Christian School) rebounded and missed a last-second jumper.
La Sierra forward Brittani Walker gave La Sierra an 81-79 lead with a lay-up with 4:33 left in the overtime period, but Largo's offensive rebound jumper at 3:35, and two lay-ups by sophomore forward Sarah Beth Hock (Gilbert, Ariz./Perry H.S.) at 3:07 and 2:43 put the Firestorm ahead, 85-81, its widest advantage of the game. La Sierra sliced ACU's lead to one point three times in the last minute, staying close by making all four of its free throws. A pair of free throws with eight seconds remaining by junior guard Tenisha Royston (Shiprock, N.M./Shiprock H.S./Scottsdale CC) put ACU ahead 91-88, and Hawthorne missed a last-second three-point shot. ACU made 4 of its 8 shots in overtime, while La Sierra was 2-for 11.
Hock and sophomore forward Stephanie Brimhall (Gilbert, Ariz./Perry H.S.), who were high school teammates, scored 14 points each. Hock, who scored 12 of her points in the second half, and Brimhall scored 10 in the second-half ACU comeback. Hock went 5-for-6 from the field and 4-for-4 from the free throw line, while Brimhall went 5-for-9 shooting and 4-for-6 at the charity line, and also blocked one shot and had a steal.
Freshman guard Kiara White (Phoenix, Ariz./Washington H.S.) gave ACU 11 points, one three-pointer, three rebounds, four steals and one assist, and freshman guard Gabrielle Evans (Phoenix, Ariz./Arcadia H.S.) added nine points, including 5 of 6 free throws, four rebounds, two assists and one steal. Royston also scored nine points and had six rebounds, eight assists and one steal, and Largo contributed eight points, 2 three-pointers, a team-high nine rebounds, three assists and one steal. Clendaniel finished with seven points, two rebounds and two assists, and junior guard Jubilee Sutherland (Glennallen, AK/Glennallen H.S./Eastern Wyoming College) added seven points.
Walker led La Sierra with a double-double of 16 points and 14 rebounds, including 12 points in the first half, and reserve guard Jasmine Ruidera scored 15 points, 11 in the first half, and hit 2 three-pointers and passed four assists. Forward Victoria Lowe also recorded a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds and stole the ball from ACU three times, and forward Shelby Madigan recorded La Sierra's third double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds and also had two steals and a blocked shot. Hawthorne hit 8 of her 10 free throws and finished with 10 points, but went 1-for-14 from the field, and also passed three assists and had three steals. Reserve center Lina Semaia conributed 12 points and nine rebounds.
ACU made 32 of 72 shots (.444), 6 of 20 three-pointers (.300) and 21 of 30 free throws (.700), committed 25 turnovers, but just 11 in the second half and stole the ball 12 times from LSU. La Sierra, which out-rebounded ACU by a wide 62-44 margin and blocked five ACU shots, made 30 of its 83 shots (.361), 2 of 11 from three-point range (.182) and 26 of 38 free throws (.684). The Eagles committed 23 turnovers, 18 in the second half, and recorded 10 steals.
Arizona Christian, guided by second-year head coach Jerry Conner, hosts its second two-day classic of the season, Friday-Saturday, Dec. 28-29. The Firestorm take on Thompson River University from Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada, Dec. 28, at 7 p.m., after Rocky Mountain College (Montana) plays against Northern New Mexico College at 5 p.m. In Dec. 29 action, Rocky Mountain meets Thompson River at 2 p.m., and Arizona Christian hosts Northern New Mexico at 4 p.m.