VIENNA-The drought is finally over for the Ohio Valley University women as the Fighting Scots jumped out to a 45-33 lead at the half and held on for an 81-76 victory over visiting Shepherd University Monday night at the Snyder Activity Center.
"We've been working for a very, very long time for this," said junior Shelby Way. "It could not have come at a better time. We are heading into the final month of the regular season and this will help us build the confidence we will need to have when tournament play begins."
Senior Jasmine Gibson tallied a game-high 29 points in the victory as the Fighting Scots improved to 1-14 overall and 1-10 in the West Virginia Conference.
Ohio Valley University's Tara Benedict, right, dribbles against Shepherd University's Morgan Johnson Monday at the Snyder Activity Center in Vienna. OVU scored an 81-76 victory. (Photo by Jeff Baughan)
"I don't know (if it is a career high)," said Gibson. "I really don't care if it is. The only thing I care about is that we won the game. That's the only stat that means anything to me."
Shepherd (7-9, 6-6 WVC) fought back to take a 72-71 lead on a pair of free throws by senior Priscilla Moseh with 3:10 left in the contest. OVU answered with an inside bucket from Gibson, who was 13-of-22 from the field and hauled down six rebounds, 13 seconds later.
The Rams took their final lead, 74-72, of the game 90 seconds later when Alex Tamez connected on a short jumper from the top of the key. But, the Scots tallied eight of the game's final 10 points to preserve the win.
A Gibson bucket with one minute remaining ignited the spurt and then OVU salted the game away at the charity stripe as Amy Brooks hit a pair and Way made good on all four of her attempts as the Rams elected to send their hosts to the charity stripe in hopes of pulling out the win."
"Just following the coach's orders," said Way. "He wants the ball in the hands of our best free throw shooters down the stretch. But, our bigs really game up big for us tonight and our guards did a great job of taking care of the basketball and hitting some big shots when we needed them."
In addition to Gibson, Way, Brooks and Tara Benedict reached double-digits with 10 points apiece. Emily Daniel led the Rams with 18 points followed by Moseh (15), Rachel Johnson (11) and Tamez (10).
"It's a great win," said head coach David Wadlington. "We are capable of going on a run and winning a lot more games down the stretch. This game will give us the confidence as we head into those games."
The OVU men were not as fortunate as former Warren High School, and Fighting Scot Austin Cunningham returned to the SAC and tallied a game-high 27 points as the Rams dealt a 95-80 loss to their hosts.
OVU jumped out to a 14-point, 35-21, lead behind the play of senior Ashton Brown, who tied Cunningham for game scoring honors with 27 points. But, led by only three, 44-41, at the intermission thanks to a buzzer-beating triple by Oz Gaizauskas.
The Scots would build their margin back to five, 51-46, on a David Sinickas trey with 18:10 left to play in the game. But, Shepherd (11-5, 8-4 WVC) would go on a 18-5 run over the next six minutes to forge a 64-56 advantage in a Morgan McDonald deuce and never looked back.
OVU would keep the game close, 88-80, on a Brown bucket with 1:53 left showing on the clock. But, those would be the final points of the game for the hosts while the Rams would close out the game with a 7-0 run for the final margin.
Joining Brown in double figures for the Scots, who play at W.Va. State University on Jan. 24, was Sinickas with 20 points, Gaizauskas (12) and Robert Smelser (11). The Rams received double-digit efforts from Chad Moore (17), Sidney McCray (15) and Kevin Jones (13).