Last shot waved off, Doves fall to Suitland Western is point short in 68-67 heartbreaker

'I'm proud,' coach says

Class 4A girls basketball

March 13, 1998|By Kevin Eck | Kevin Eck,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

A fraction of a second more.

That's all Western needed to avoid a heartbreaking, 68-67 loss to Suitland of Prince George's County in a Class 4A state semifinal yesterday at UMBC.

Less than a second was the difference between a trip to the championship game against No. 5 Arundel tomorrow and a quiet bus ride home last night.

Trailing by a point with 0.1 seconds left, sixth-ranked Western had one last possession.

Crystal Falline inbounded the ball from underneath Suitland's basket with a long pass to LaTia Few, who was a foot beyond the three-point arc. After catching the ball, Few turned around and hoisted a shot.

Just before she released the ball, however, the buzzer sounded.

She made the shot, but officials quickly waved it off. Few just stood there, smiling and shaking her head in disbelief as Suitland players celebrated around her.

"I'll replay that last 10th of a second in my mind over and over again," Few said. "That was a very difficult shot. I just wish we had a little more time."

The loss ended an area-best 22-game winning streak for Western (25-3), whose average margin of victory was more than 53 points in its past 18 games.

"The second part of our season really did hurt us because we didn't have any competition," Western senior Tiffany Silver said. "But I think we stepped up to the challenge today."

The Doves, who were making their fifth state semifinal appearance in the past six seasons -- but the first under new coach Artie Uhlich -- trailed by as many as 14 points early in the fourth quarter and by nine with under two minutes remaining.

But Few, who scored a team-high 19 points and equaled her career-high with five three-pointers on seven attempts, started a 12-4 Doves run with a three-pointer and ended the spurt with tTC another three with seven seconds left to pull Western to 68-67.

After each team committed a turnover, Suitland (23-2) got the ball with 1.6 seconds left. Sharron Francis (game-high 20 points) inbounded the ball with a length-of-the-court pass to Candice Phelps, who was called for traveling after she slipped underneath the basket with 0.1 seconds remaining.

"The girls never gave up and I'm very proud to be their coach," Uhlich said. "A lot of people counted us out of this tournament and did not give us any respect because of our schedule, but they better respect us after this game, because the girls earned it."

Pub Date: 3/13/98

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