The Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks erased a 10-point deficit in the final four minutes of regulation and then outscored the Rice Owls 13-9 in overtime for a thrilling 68-64 victory Tuesday evening at William R. Johnson Coliseum.
Senior guard Tammara Marion scored a team-high 20 points, including a game-tying jumper with 0.9 seconds left in regulation to propel the Ladyjacks into the extra frame. Sophomore forward Annette Davis was just as big off the bench, scoring a career-high 17 points in only 19 minutes of action.
All in all it was a total team effort and another dominant bench differential in favor of SFA, 28-11.
"It's good to get a game like tonight pre-conference where we can execute in late game situations," SFA head coach Brandon Schneider said. "The overall balance we got tonight is something we're going to have to have this season. Obviously we're searching a little bit for offensive consistency but we played extremely hard tonight, especially on defense."
The Ladyjacks (9-2) played as complete a first half as they had all season and took a 29-18 lead into halftime after limiting the Owls (5-6) to only 31 percent shooting and forcing 16 turnovers. SFA got a scoring boost from both Davis and Marion, who each scored nine points each in the game's first 20 minutes
However, just as was the case in their previous loss to Arkansas State, the Ladyjacks saw their lead disappear quickly as the completely turned the game around and went on a 14-2 run in the first 5 minutes. To make matters worse, Marion had to leave the game for an extended period of time with a neck injury but would later return.
Brianna Hypolite, who finished with a game-high 29 points, scored seven points during the Rice run and Jessica Kuster pitched in five more points. Kuster, who came into Tuesday evening averaging 20 points and 14 rebounds per contest, was held to just 13 points and four rebounds at night's end before leaving the game with a foot injury in overtime.
Rice built a lead as big as 51-40 with just over six minutes remaining but the Ladyjacks refused to go down. SFA turned to Davis, who scored six straight points to cut the deficit to 55-51 with 2:31 left in regulation.
After two made free throws by senior guard Courtney Conwright made the score 55-53 with 42 seconds left, the Ladyjacks came up with a huge stop on a miss from D'Frantz Smart and the rebound to Amina Sawyer.
Coach Schneider then called a timeout with four seconds remaining to set up a play. Ashley Bettis would then find Marion in the corner and the senior drove baseline and connected on a floater with just 0.9 left to tie the game and force overtime.
In overtime it was Bettis (11 points) who hit the shot of the night, draining a three-pointer to extend the Ladyjacks lead to 62-58 and the team would never look back.
SFA will cap off their non-conference portion of the schedule on Dec. 30 when they travel to SMU followed by an afternoon matchup at Tulsa on Jan. 1.