FORT WAYNE – Because Erin Murphy did what she does late in the game, and the rest of the Mastodons made their contributions at one time or another, IPFW recovered from a 12-point deficit in the second half to beat Oakland 57-55 at the Gates Center on Saturday.
Murphy took off on a determined drive to the basket from 16 feet away, scored a layup, got fouled, made the free throw – all with 17.8 seconds remaining – to push the Mastodons (7-13, 3-5) past the Grizzlies (8-12, 2-6) in a game that ended a three-game IPFW losing streak.
Trailing 55-54, the Mastodons got a timeout with 25.8 seconds left in the game and 25 seconds left on the shot clock.
We told Erin, Just do what you do, IPFW coach Chris Paul said. She caught it at the top. And I told her in the locker room thats the best job Ive seen her finish since shes been here. The gap wasnt real wide. She found a way to get in there, but not only did she find a way to get in there, she went strong, took the contact, finished and hit a huge free throw.
Hanging onto the two-point lead, IPFW wasnt out of the scary woods yet. Oakland got a point-blank look at the basket two feet away from Elena Popkey with 4.2 seconds left, but IPFWs 6-foot-1 freshman Courtney Ogle blocked the shot from behind.
Still hoping for something with the 4.2 they had left, the Grizzlies got off two more shots, neither of which fell.
Erin made the play offensively, Courtney made the play defensively, and we win a close game, Paul said.
Even though IPFW got off to a chilly beginning, going scoreless for nine minutes to fall behind 11-3, it got the halftime lead, 22-18, only to go scoreless for six more minutes to trail 39-27 with 10:05 remaining.
But on the heels of two Amanda Hyde buckets that got it within eight, IPFW caught a break when Oaklands Peyton Apsey was called for a foul, then a technical. Hyde dropped the two technical free throws, then another one due to the foul, and what was a 12-point deficit a minute and a half ago was down to five, 39-34.
And then Murphy, whose 11 points backed up Hydes 17 and 13 from Stefanie Mauk, did her thing.
I just took it as this is what I like to do, Murphy said. I did what I could, and it worked out the way we wanted it to. But honestly in the end, I know a lot of people are going to remember that last play, but it was everybody. It was those last four seconds we got that stop. It was Stefanie Mauk and Amanda Hyde – big threes toward the end.