Ni'ya Styles' three-pointer at the buzzer forced overtime, but the upset was thwarted by two free throws with no time left on the clock as the University of Mount Olive dropped a wild finish to Division I UNC Wilmington 81-80 in overtime in preseason exhibition women's basketball Saturday afternoon in Wilmington, N.C. Styles shared game-high honors with 19 points, while Jada Bacchus scored 14 of her 17 points in the fourth period.
"I just realized that I needed to pick it up to help out my team. I felt very comfortable playing here since I have played a few games here before in high school [Ashley High School]" said Bacchus after the game.
Styles took a Hail Mary shot as the buzzer went off in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 72 and force overtime. The Trojans outscored the Seahawks in the third and fourth periods but a late foul call was the final blow as two made free throws sealed the win for UNC Wilmington.
The first period started off with a slow start on offensive as neither team found the bottom of the net until the 7:49 mark. A Mount Olive foul gave UNC Wilmington two free throws and Jasmine Steele broke into the scorebook and the Seahawks led by two. Anamaria Zjacic tied the game with a layup with 7:19 left in the first period.
The Trojans kept the game close not allowing the Seahawks to extend the game past four. Styles brought the game down to one with under 30 seconds left. Naqaiyyah Teague had the final shot of the first period with a made free throw taking the game to 15-13 lead.
In the second period Mount Olive continued to keep the lead to within four for the first three minutes. Ariel Johnson brought the lead back to two and Styles knocked down a three-pointer to give the Trojans their first lead of the game 21-20 with 6:45 remaining in the second period. The Seahawks did not allow Mount Olive to extend the lead past two as the game was tied twice before Mount Olive pushed the lead to 30-26 with a bucket by Styles with 3:25 left.
UNC Wilmington then went on a five point run to regain the lead with 2:45. The Seahawks scored the last points of the second period going on a 5-0 run to take a 40-37 lead at the half.
The third period started off with UNC Wilmington scoring four unanswered point to take its largest lead of the game 37-44. After a bucket by Daria Simmons, Tommarah Harris drained a shot from beyond the arch and the Trojans trailed by two 44-42. The Seahawks pushed the lead back to five with 4:53 remaining in the third.
Mount Olive down 49-42 rallied back for a six point run to end the third period trailing by one, 49-48.
Johnson picked up the first points of the fourth period as the Trojans regained the lead. Mount Olive continued to attack as the lead grew to 57-53 with 7:11. Following a jumper by UNC Wilmington's Amber Reeves that knotted the game at 59, Bacchus drove into the paint and picked up a bucket and a foul. Bacchus converted the and-one opportunity and Mount Olive lead 62-59 with 3:58.
The lead exchanged hands five times before Bacchus was fouled and hit both of her free throws to give Mount Olive the lead 68-67 with 1:45 remaining. UNC Wilmington's Steele gave the Seahawks the lead with a three-pointer with 1:08 left.
Mount Olive held the Seahawks to what seemed to be the final shot as Rebekah Banks drove into the lane and gave UNC Wilmington a 72-69 lead. The Trojans transitioned quickly as Styles had the ball on the right wing under five second to go. Styles created space and threw up a last second shot that found the bottom of the net with the clock expiring and sent the game into overtime.
"We were just thinking of getting the ball up the floor and finding a three point shooter and I was there to take it" said Styles.
In overtime the Trojans took the lead after a Buie layup 10 seconds into overtime. Madison Raque put up five unanswered points to push the Seahawks back on top 77-74 with 2:54 remaining.
Zjacic was fouled three times and went 4-for-6 from the line to move the Trojans back into the lead 78-77 with 1:07 left. After a Trojan free throw, Emily Thomas responded with two free throws to tie the game up 79. Buie responded by drawing a foul and making a free throw to lead by one. As the game clock expired, UNC Wilmington's Reeves drew a foul and was permitted to take two free throws. Reeves made both and the Seahawks took the final decision 81-80.
"I felt more comfortable today playing here [UNCW] and I just had to come out and play my game. We just have a few things to work on moving forward but we feel good" said Styles about the team moving onto UNC Chapel Hill on Monday.
Head coach Wendy Lee talk about the team's effort and outlook after the game.
"I am pleased we were in the game and competitive against a higher level opponent to give ourselves a chance to win. We are disappointed that we didn't come away with the win but a lot of young players stepped up today. There is still a lot to work on but it is a game where you want to get better from it, but the moral victory was there for us. We are excited to move into another game Monday."
The next game pits husband and wife against each other as Billy Lee Assistant coach for UNC will for the first time coach against his wife.
"It's not going to be different than any other day because we talk basketball every day. We typically root for each other and it will be difficult for that little bit of the game, but more than anything else we want both programs to succeed throughout the season."
The Trojans had two more players in double figures to join Styles and Bacchus. Johnson had a near triple-double as she finished with 13 points, eight boards, and seven blocks. Zjacic rounded out the double figure scorers with a double-double, 12 points and 12 boards.
Mount Olive tips off against UNC Chapel Hill on Monday at 6 p.m.
Following the game Tim Hower fro the StarNews Online did a feature on Jada Bacchus. You can find the full story here.