McHENRY, Md. – The Lady Lakers clearly weren't satisfied to just play out the string.
Playing its season finale, the Garrett College women's basketball team competed on an even footing Wednesday night against a Potomac State College squad seeded third in NJCAA Division II Region XX. The visiting Catamounts needed a 13-0, fourth-quarter run highlighted by Bethany Arndt's go-ahead 3-pointer to rally past GC, 62-50.
"I was open – when you're open, you shoot it," said Arndt after calming knocking down the go-ahead trey from the left wing with 6:22 remaining. The sophomore guard, who finished with 3 treys among her 17 points, helped the Catamounts (18-5) whittle a 13-point deficit to 28-25 at the half with 10 second-quarter points.
Arndt's outside scoring was complemented by the inside play of Tyesha Taylor, who scored a game-high 18 points. Even so, PSC still might not have been able to overcome the Lady Lakers on "Sophomore Night" had it not been for head coach Jim Walton's decision to try a variety of pressure defenses in the second half.
"I think it [full- and half-court pressure] made us play a little harder," said Walton. "We definitely played with more energy."
GC head coach J.T. Lewis said PSC's pressure had its intended effect.
"We're a young team," observed Lewis, whose squad finished the season 9-16. "They did exactly what they should have done by bringing the pressure. That sped us up and took us out of our comfort zone. It led us to take some bad shots early in the shot clock instead of running our offense."
Until the Catamounts applied that pressure, GC appeared headed for a season-ending upset victory.
The Lady Lakers started fast, sprinting to a 6-0 lead as Jada Maxwell (10 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks) started and ended the run with inside hoops. After Taylor's 3-point set shot got PSC on the board, the Lady Lakers extended their lead with an 8-2 surge capped by Maxwell's turnaround jumper off a nice post-up move for a 14-5 cushion.
Garrett, which had a 19-8 advantage after one quarter, built its biggest lead when Kayla Harris (9 points) drained a corner jumper to start the second stanza. PSC, however, owned the rest of the second quarter behind Arndt's 10 points.
Taylor banked home a jumper to cut the gap to 35-33 with 5:22 left in the third quarter, but Tia Jackson answered with a 3-pointer. PSC would go over 5 minutes without scoring, allowing Garrett to stretch its lead to 40-33, but the Lady Lakers missed a huge chance to take command by missing 5-of-8 free throws during the Catamounts' scoreless streak.
Jackson (17 points, 11 rebounds) buried a 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter to give GC its biggest lead of the second half at 43-35, but PSC answered with its game-turning, 13-0 run. Mackenzie Hartman had all 5 of her points in that surge, including a free throw that cut GC's advantage to 43-41 and set up Arndt's go-ahead trey.
Taylor then scored on a put-back and Kasey Canei hit a running half-hook to complete the Catamount surge. Maxwell split a pair of free throws to stop PSC's streak, but Johnee Durham responded with consecutive jumpers – one of them a trey as the shot clock expired – to break the game open.
"She hit some big shots in the fourth quarter," Lewis said of Durham, who finished with 11 points. "I was kind of wondering when she would start being more aggressive – she's an all-region player."
Walton said his Catamounts started playing better offensively when everyone got involved.
"It wasn't until things started flowing and we got people moving offensively that things clicked," said Walton. "We didn't become better shooters – we just became participants in the game."
Lewis, finishing his second season as head coach, said the GC program is progressing.
"We played with a lot more consistency," said Lewis, whose team tripled its win total this season despite having just one sophomore on the squad. "Hopefully we can build on this season and bring back a more experienced team."
Notes: GC sophomore forward Nyasia Jones finished with 2 points, 7 rebounds – and Lewis' gratitude.
"It's tough saying good-bye to Nyasia," said Lewis. "She's the only player I've had for two years. She's a hard worker who's grown a lot as a player and a student."