Small's Layup Buzzer-Beater Gives #2 Berea 13th Straight Win

Mountaineer player Nakeisha Greene collecting a rebound.
Mountaineer player Nakeisha Greene collecting a rebound.

Berea, KY- #2 Berea came home to the Seabury Center this evening after a road victory in their last game. They hosted the Kentucky Christian University Knights on the Roland Wierwille Court as bid day for the USCAA Division I Women's National Championship approaches. The teams played earlier this season in Grayson, KY, a 66-63 slugfest win and this game was very similar to the first game, as the game saw 17 ties and 14 lead changes.

The opening minutes of the contest saw the game become tied at 5-5 on Bri Lanham's three-point jumper. KCU broke the tie before the Mountaineers used a Jaime Roberts three-pointer and Bethanie Williams layup to pull ahead 10-8. An 8-2 scoring run by the Knights gave them a 16-12 lead with 4:33 remaining in the quarter. Five straight points via a layup and a three-point play by Williams, who finished the night with 30 points, gave Berea a brief lead before a 8-4 run by the Knights gave them a 24-21 as the first quarter ended.

KCU began the second quarter scoring 14 of the first 17 points to take a 38-24 advantage with 6:20 remaining in the half. By the 4:42 mark, the Mountaineers had cut the deficit to just four using a full-court pressure defense and scoring 10 straight points, with seven of the points coming from Zacchea Small, making the score 38-34. Kiley Barnard's layup brought Berea back within two points of the lead, 40-38, but a Knights' basket pushed their lead back out to four. Lanham cut the lead to one point with her basket at the buzzer as the teams headed to halftime with the scoreboard reading 48-47.

After a KCU three-point basket, layups from Nakeisha Greene and Barnard brought the score to a tie at 51 apiece with 6:55 remaining in the third quarter, beginning a streak of three ties over the next two minutes. Williams' layup broke the third tie to give the Mountaineers a 58-56 lead. Five straight points from the Knights put them ahead by three points before consecutive three-point jumpers from Roberts, the second one coming with three seconds remaining, pushed Berea ahead 64-63 as the teams headed to the final quarter.

Lanham's jump shot gave the Mountaineers a 66-63 lead before KCU went on a 5-0 run to move ahead 68-66. Four straight free throws from Berea pushed the lead back in their favor, 70-68, before the game became tied once again at 70 each. With 3:30 remaining in the game, the Mountaineers moved ahead 79-75 off of Williams' three-point shot. The visitors scored four consecutive points from the free throw line to tie the game again before a free throw from Williams gave Berea a 80-79 lead with 58 seconds remaining in the game. It was looking like the Mountaineers were going to add another game to their winning streak before a foul call by the refs sent a Knights player to the free throw line where the pair was split, forcing a 80-80 tie which sent the game to overtime.

After a free throw by KCU to begin overtime, Roberts gave Berea an 82-81 lead as 3:56 remained in the game. Five points from Small pushed the Mountaineers ahead 86-83 before a 10-2 run by the Knights gave them a 93-88 lead with 34 seconds remaining. Williams made the deficit just two with her three-point basket from the left wing with 23 seconds left on the clock. A pair of free throws by KCU to make the score 95-91 with 12 seconds remaining looked like it was going to sink Berea but three made free throws from Roberts after she was fouled on a three-point attempt  gave the Mountaineers life and cut the score to a one point deficit. An errant pass on the inbounds attempt after a Knights timeout gave possession back to Berea. With 5.6 second remaining, Small took a out of bounds pass from Barnard a little bit behind half court and rushed down the floor to the lane, shooting a layup which fell in the basket as time expired, giving the Mountaineers their 13th straight victory, 96-95.

Lanham and Greene scored 18 points each to aid the scoring efforts. Greene, Williams, Roberts and Lanham finished with seven rebounds each while Small finished with 17 points, four rebounds and six assists. The team scored 25 points off 19 forced turnovers and outscored the Knights 42-26 in the paint while also finishing 26-31 from the charity stripe.  

#2 Berea (19-5) awaits their invitation to the USCAA Division I Women's Basketball National Championship Tournament, set to be announced on Monday, February 20th. The team returns to the Roland Wierwille Court to conclude their regular season the following day as they welcome the University of the Cumberlands to the Seabury Center. Tipoff is set for 5:30 PM. Live video of the action can be seen here and live stats of the game can be found at this link.