Going into Saturday’s game against Mississippi Valley State, the Arkansas-Pine Bluff women’s basketball team wanted to set the tone early and try to get a spark before heading to Houston for the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament.
UAPB did everything it wanted to do in Saturday’s season finale. The Lady Lions started out strong, had multiple people in double figures scoring, and limited MVSU on the offensive end.
The only thing UAPB didn’t do — win.
“We practically gave that game to them,” UAPB head coach Nate Kilbert said. “We just made bad plays down the stretch that cost us the game.”
Valley — who trailed UAPB by as much as 13 in the second half — defeated the Lady Lions 68-67 in overtime inside the H.O. Clemmons Arena.
A free throw by Valley’s Christina Reed with 7.5 seconds left in overtime gave the Devilettes (9-20, 8-10 SWAC) the one-point edge.
Following the miss on the second attempt, UAPB (3-25, 2-16) moved the ball up near half court before calling a timeout with 5.8 seconds left.
“We were trying to get the ball in (Christina) Lasane’s hands,” Kilbert said. “Leave it up to her to get the best possible shot.
“She only had five seconds and I thought Valley did a pretty good job of putting pressure on her.
“We lost the game before that point though.”
With no time to set up a play, Lasane attempted a three-pointer from the top of the key but it hit off the back of the rim as time expired.
Lasane finished with a game-high 20 points on 4 of 14 shooting and 10 of 11 at the free-throw line.
“We just had a lot of bad things happen to us down the stretch,” Kilbert said.
With just a little over a minute left in regulation, UAPB led Valley 59-54. A three-point play with 1:11 left by Valley’s Ashley Beals got the Devilettes within two.
On the following possession, UAPB had a chance to extend their lead inside the paint. The shot missed but the Lady Lions were able to grab the rebound.
The ball was kicked out to sophomore Cassidy Wright at the three-point line and — despite the UAPB bench yelling not to shoot — she attempted the shot and missed.
“Wright made so many mistakes down the stretch,” Kilbert said. “Passing the ball inbounds, passing the ball on a fast break and taking that shot with a two-point lead with less than a minute left.”
Wright finished with just four points on 1 of 12 from the floor. She also grabbed five rebounds. Carlisha Walker came off the bench and scored 15 points on 7 of 8 shooting and eight rebounds.
Destiny Ham had nine points and freshman Mollie Campbell had six rebounds to go along with her six points.
UAPB led for almost the entire game and it wasn’t until the start of the overtime period did Valley take a 61-59 lead.
“I don’t think Valley played that particularly well,” Kilbert said. “They are capable of playing better than that.”
Jsmyne Sanders led Valley with 17 points on 6 of 12 shooting and Beals contributed with 15 points. A’Shanti Weathers had 11 points.
UAPB, which hasn’t won a game since Feb. 8, will play Grambling State in the first round of the SWAC tournament, according to Kilbert.
The Lady Lions split the two-game series with Grambling this year, winning 64-58 at home on Feb. 1.
The SWAC tournament is scheduled to begin on Tuesday.