Scots charge ahead: Maryville prevails against undefeated Ferrum
By Marcus Fitzsimmons | (email@example.com)
It may not have been a charge, but it certainly charge up Maryville.
With a share of first place in the USA South standings on the line, Maryville College prevailed over visiting Ferrum Wednesday as the number of undefeated teams in conference play dropped to just one with MC’s 79-70 win over the No. 21 Lady Panthers on Randy Lambert Court and CNU’s loss to NC Wesleyan.
Ferrum (12-1, 6-1 USAC) closed the margin to 64-60 against MC with 5:07 but incited the Scots in the process. Kelsey Frazier’s basket was initially waived off for an offensive foul call, but after a discussion amongst the officiating crew Janell Menard’s position was ruled inside the no charge zone, the call reversed, the basket counted, the foul shot awarded and in a heart beat, the Scots batteries amped up.
“It really did charge us up,” Menard told The Daily Times. “It was like OK, we don’t need it get the iffy calls, we just have to go win this with no doubts.”
Maryville took off from there. A pair of Kierra Payne drives provided some air before Alex Bond dropped the back breaker, swishing a trey from the right wing after MC worked the shot clock down to a second, for a 73-65 lead with a minute to play to settle the outcome.
Freshman Mackenzie Puckett scored a career-high 20 as the intangible, Payne drove Ferrum crazy in netting 16 and Menard poured in 16 of her 18 in the second half for MC (13-1, 7-0), which was unranked but receiving votes in the latest polls, and shot 52 percent from the field in the win.
“With us, Ferrum and CNU, I think we legitimately have three NCAA tournament teams in this conference and maybe the rankings in that national conversation, MC skipper Darrin Travillian said. “Rankings are what they are, but the kids look at them and I’d say the three of us have a place in those conversations.”
The Scots jumped out to a 14-5 lead as Payne made any B-grade slasher movie director proud driving and cutting backdoor for 8 of her 16 while also handing out three assists, a pair of those Lauren Burnett bombs from beyond the arc.
Ferrum regrouped going inside and forcing nine Lady Scot turnovers to claw back and keep pace but could never claim a lead despite cutting the mragin to four on three occasions.
“Player for player they’re probably a little bigger than we are and maybe a little quicker at some spots,” Travillian said after his team won the boards and held the Lady Panthers slight below their 48 percent shooting clip for the season. “We used a lot of mix and match and kept the pace on our tune as much as we could, we’d run, we’d push then we’d pull it back and deflate the ball to slow it all down. We wanted to make every possession matter.”
MC refused to surrender the lead as Puckett took advantage of mismatch after mismatch for 14 in the first half. The freshman’s effort took the spotlight in the final seconds before the break. Ferrum’s timeout to set for the final shot went aery as Shea Smith was trapped in the corner and Puckett came away with the tipped pass, dribbled ahead of the crowd to swish the running jumper from the foul line to give the Scots a 39-30 advantage at the horn.
“We got the tip out of the trap in the corner and Donja got me the ball,” Puckett said. “I never saw the clock, I just heard the crowd counting, ‘3, 2,’ and knew I had to put up a good shot.”
Payne finished with a double-double, adding 10 rebounds in a 36-29 Scot advantage. Jacole Hairston paced the previously unbeaten Lady Panthers with 15 while Kelsey Frazier added 14.
Maryville returns to action Saturday hosting North Carolina Wesleyan.