An almost certain Roadrunner win nearly became a crushing loss as turnovers helped the Nicholls Colonels stay close enough with the Roadrunners to make things interesting at the Convocation Center Saturday.
The game began with the Roadrunners (12-13, 8-4 SLC) jumping out to the first of many 10-point leads with a 12-2 advantage four minutes into the game. As would be the case for the rest of the day, the Colonels (8-17, 3-9 SLC) would use Roadrunner turnovers and the hot three point shooting of guards Ricshanda Bickham and KK Babin to stay in the game.
Early on it became apparent that the game would be won or lost by turnovers. In the first half alone, the Roadrunners coughed the ball up 11 times to the colonels three. The Colonels used the Roadrunners turnovers to account for 10 of their 24 first half points. The Roadrunners would not be able to capitalize on the few times the Colonels offered up the ball.
The Colonels got to within three at with 6:01 left in the half but a few minutes of cold shooting coupled with the Roadrunners knocking down everything in sight pushed the Roadrunners advantage back up to 10, 26-16, with 2:53 remaining in the half.
The Roadrunner lead grew to 11, 30-19, with 1:03 left before halftime. The Roadrunners then went cold while Babin used a layup and a long three point field goal at the buzzer to cut the Roadrunner lead down to six, 30-24.
“I said at halftime we would lose if we had 20 turnovers,” Rippetoe-Blair said, “You usually don’t win games with 25 turnovers.”
The Roadrunners showed no ill effects from the buzzer beating three as seniors Ashleigh Franklin and Amber Gregg pulled the Roadrunners back up by 10, 34-24. The Colonels cut it back down to single digits on a LiAnn McCarthy jumper. Again the Roadrunners went back up 10 but back to back threes by Bickham brought the Roadrunners back down to earth with a 36-32 lead.
The Colonels would continue to chip away at the Roadrunners lead everytime it seemed the Roadrunners would put in the buckets to pull away. The Colonels would get within four yet again at 40-36, but the Roadrunners went on a 10-2 run over three-and-a-half minutes to hold their biggest lead of the game at 12 points, 50-38.
Just when it seemed the Roadrunners might pull away for the victory, the turnover troubles came back to the Roadrunners as the Colonels erased the 12 point deficit and took their first lead of the game with 20 seconds left, 54-53.
The final 20 seconds were chaotic at the Roadrunners basket before Ashley Gardner would draw a foul with one second left to play. The case was simple for Gardner, two free throws, only one needed to tie. Gardner would miss the first one but after a huddle with her teammates she hit the second one and the Roadrunners forced overtime.
“When i missed that first one I got really nervous,” Gardner said. “I calmed down and made the second one.”
The first overtime looked like the rest of the game. The Roadrunners jumped out to a lead on a three point field goal by Jermini Malone and then spent the rest of the five-minute period trying to hold off the Colonels. The Colonels weren’t going away as they stayed within range of the Roadrunners and eventually forced a second overtime on two Cassie Hearon free throws.
Almost a year to the day since their last double-overtime game, the Roadrunners found themselves in that situation yet again. The second overtime period would be all Roadrunners as they outscored the Colonels 11-1 in the period to pull out an ugly 73-63 win.
“Sorry you had to watch that,” Rippetoe Blair said. “They hit some big threes; we acted a little bit like we were in slow motion.”
The Roadrunners outplayed the Colonels in every area except the turnover battle.
“It was a crazy game,” Rippetoe-Blair said. “I am frustrated; it doesn’t feel like a win.”
The Roadrunners will hit the road to face the Texas A&M Corpus-Christi Islanders (2-22, 0-11 SLC) Wednesday and return home for the I-35 Rivalry with Texas State Saturday.