The Haskell Indian Nations University women’s basketball team expects nothing will come easily this season, and Tuesday’s game at Coffin Complex was no exception.
“It’s one of those years where we have to work for everything,” coach Shane Flanagan said after a narrow 80-77 overtime victory over St. Mary at Coffin Complex.
The first half was tight, with neither team getting more than a four-point lead. In the second half, the Indians started the game with a 21-6 run and built a 14-point lead with about 10 minutes to go.
But shooters were leaving the court from foul trouble, and it started to take its toll. Echo Keo, Jordan Clay and Shayna Everett, who combined for 12 points and six rebounds, each had five fouls. That left three seniors — Lois Stevens, Nataska Rouse and Kayla Davis — to shoulder the scoring load.
“That was really putting a damper on things,” Davis said of her team’s foul trouble.
St. Mary kept chipping away at the lead, and Tracie Weege, who had seven three-pointers for the Spires, hit a few in the final minutes to help close the gap.
With two seconds left and Haskell up three, the Indians fouled Weege as she went up for the game-tying three. She made all three free throws, sending the game into overtime, tied 70-all.
The Indians (2-4) have had enough trouble with fatigue and conditioning over the season, so overtime was not an ideal situation.
“Then I said, ‘This is fun,’” Flanagan said. “‘Let’s enjoy the moment.’”
Flanagan has only been with the team for about five weeks and said the players are still trying to get into basketball shape while learning a new scheme.
Davis was too determined to let her body give out.
“Overtime was pushing it, but I didn’t want to lose,” she said. “It was a home game.”
Davis helped lead HINU win a free-throw-driven overtime, stifling St. Mary in the process. She finished with a team-high 26 points, going 14-of-16 from the free-throw line.
The game wasn’t as pretty as the coaches drew it up, but Flanagan wasn’t going to complain about a victory.
“We’re a little behind, so it’s nice to get a win like that,” he said. “I want them to get used to having a winning mentality.”