By Rob Potter
LIBERTY January 15, 2008 The Liberty Lady Indians certainly did not mind playing an extra four minutes of basketball on Friday night.
That’s because Liberty outscored the visiting Tri-Valley Lady Bears, 12-7, in the four-minute overtime period to post a 47-42 victory in the non-league game.
The win was the first of the season for the Lady Indians, who happily embraced each other after the final buzzer sounded.
Junior center Ceara Williams gave Liberty (1-9) a 37-35 lead with 3:24 remaining in overtime by swishing a pair of free throws.
The Lady Indians pushed their advantage to 40-35 in the next minute as Lisandra Villalobos made a foul shot and Williams hit a turnaround jump shot in the lane.
Jakki Pugh scored the Lady Bears’ first points of the extra frame. At the 2:02 mark, she went 1-of-2 at the free-throw line to make it a 40-36 game.
Seventeen seconds later, Pugh nailed a pair of foul shots to bring T-V (4-5) to within a basket at 40-38.
Williams responded with a basket inside the paint at 1:02 and teammate Angela Giacalone swished two foul shots with 48.6 seconds remaining to push the Liberty lead to 44-38.
T-V’s Kathryn Schneyer scored an easy basket with 6.1 seconds left to bring her team to within three points at 45-42.
However, Villalobos calmly converted a pair of free throws with 1.2 seconds on the clock to secure the Lady Indians’ five-point win.
Pugh forced the overtime session when she drove down the lane and put up a successful shot off the glass with 3.2 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
“We finally got the monkey off our back, as the old saying goes,” Liberty Coach Tom LaGattuta said. “Ceara Williams came up really big for us tonight.”
While Williams had a game-high 22 points, LaGattuta praised all of his players.
“Teamwork was very important for this win,” he said. “The guards did a good job of passing the ball inside to Ceara.”
Free-throw shooting was also a key to victory for the Lady Indians. Liberty was 18-of-25 at the foul line, while T-V made just 9-of-23 free throws.
In addition to Williams, Giacalone also scored in double figures, finishing with 12 points. Junior forward Danielle Johnson added six points for the Lady Indians.
Pugh led the Lady Bears’ offense with 12 points. She also grabbed nine rebounds and made seven steals.
Kelly McNamara and Kaylie Ackerley had eight points and five points, respectively, for T-V.
Ackerley also pulled down seven rebounds, while Samantha Santiago had seven steals and three assists.
When asked what made the difference in the close, competitive contest, T-V Coach Karen Andrews was quick to reply.
“No. 23 for their team,” she said, referring to Williams. “She made some nice turnaround shots inside and we couldn’t stop her.
“We used our press to take an early lead, but in the second half they started to get some steals and took the lead,” Andrews added.
LaGattuta noted that T-V is “a good team” which “will be fired up” when the teams meet again on January 18.
“But our girls can walk around with their heads held up high for the next few days,” he said.