Bears bounce back to beat Lions

January 12, 1995|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,Sun Staff Writer

Digging themselves out of a deep hole has become a trademark for the No. 2 Hammond Golden Bears.

Last night, the Bears had to rebound from 13 points down in the third quarter to edge No. 14 Howard, 53-50.

Tiki Nicholson led the Bears with 17 points and hit the game-winner from 18 feet away with 1:13 left. She and Rene Hines (14 points) added free throws in the last five seconds to seal the win.

This was the third game the Bears (7-2 overall, 2-0 league) have won after trailing by 12 or 13 points. They rebounded from 12 down to beat No. 4 St. Frances and No. 6 Old Mill.

"These girls just know how to win," said Hammond coach Joe Russo.

And they know how to hit their free throws. The visitors scored five more baskets than Hammond, but the Bears hit 13 of 22 from the line. Howard was just 2-for-11.

Still the missed free throws hurt the Lions no worse than back-to-back missed follow shots, three turnovers and a missed layup in the last three minutes.

"You can't let those get away," said Howard coach Craig O'Connell. "We were finding ways to lose. I'm not disappointed in the way we played, but when you've got a chance to win, you've got to take it."

Most of the game, the Lions (5-5, 0-2) played as though they would take it. They ran with the Bears and stifled their inside game, forcing Hammond to fire from way outside.

"With their zone, we couldn't get it inside," said Bears forward Kellye Townsend. "When we got it in, we were getting trapped too much, so we had to go outside."

The Lions ran up their big lead in a six-minute period spanning halftime. Tying at 30 on Rebecca Powell's short jumper, the Lions scored 11 unanswered points. They outscored Hammond, 16-1, as the Bears missed 20 straight shots.

Megan Boehm threw up a baseline prayer answered not only with the basket but a foul. When she hit the free throw with 5:11 to go in the third quarter, Howard led 35-22.

Then Hammond, which has not lost to a Howard County opponent since January 1993, stopped the Lions cold with a three-minute full-court blitz.

Howard turned the ball over five times and the Bears converted four of them in a 15-point run. The Lions also lost a key player, sophomore forward Chanelle Carter who fouled out with two minutes to go after scoring 14 points.

Townsend's 20-footer cut the margin to 35-33 before the Lions gave up the ball twice in 12 seconds right under Hammond's basket. Katie McCartney tied it and Tameka Harrison (12 points) gave the Bears a 37-35 lead.

The teams traded baskets into the fourth quarter until Mona Jackson (15 points) hit a three-pointer for a 48-47 Howard lead. The lead flipped twice more before Nicholson hit the game-winner.

"I think they learned something," said Russo. "You have to be on your game all the time. Everybody who plays us plays harder and there are some good teams out there."

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