SHELBYVILLE, IL. —
Ryan Dooley’s buzzer-beater gave A&M a 31-20 lead at halftime, a stunning turn of events after the host team’s early domination.
“We hoping just to stay with them, and when it started off 9-2, I thought here we go again,” said Lady Raiders coach Tom Dooley, whose team was blown out on its home floor by CHBC a year ago. “But we’ve got a veteran team and they shook off the rust and responded.”
Four quick turnovers by CHBC to start the second half gave every indication that things would not improve, but Jones decided to take over the game soon after, scoring nine of her 11 third-quarter points in the final three minutes of the frame.
Chandler Ward completed CHBC’s comeback from 12 down with a game-tying 3-pointer with about five minutes remaining in the game.
But the Lady Hornets never took a lead, and 3-pointers on consecutive possessions by Taylor Jordan and Heaton put Central A&M back in control. A pair of free throws following CHBC’s 21st turnover with just under three minutes to go put A&M up six, and the Lady Raiders never looked back.
The Lady Hornets finished with 21 turnovers on the night and had just three 3-pointers.
“Last year I could rely on my inside-out game, and right now I’m looking for my outside game,” Wendte said. “I will find me some outside shooters so that they can’t just double and triple team Micah on the inside all the time.”
Despite the latter taking place all night, Jones was pretty much unstoppable, finishing with game highs of 26 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks. She would have had an even bigger night had she not missed eight free throws.
A&M struggled at the charity stripe as well, making just 14 of 31.