By Matt Goisman
McALESTER — McAlester’s guards chased Durant’s up and down the court on defense, and they made two key offensive plays late in the game to give the Lady Buffaloes the win.
Lady Buffs guard Vhitney Garner’s offensive rebound eventually led to Shattee Robinson’s game-winning free throw, then fellow guard Taylor Compton turned a steal into an insurance point to help the Lady Buffs beat the Lady Lions 36-34 on Tuesday at Bob Brumley Gymnasium.
“The guards did a really good job of sparking us in the first half,” Lady Buffs coach April Burns said. “When we started with our bigs, we just weren’t getting anything going defensively. We had four different guards come in off the bench and they gave us a huge spark, so that’s really good. Our defense is definitely the thing that charged our offense tonight.”
Durant led 34-32 with about three minutes left in the game, but McAlester answered three possessions later, with Baylee Dawkins finding April Calistro for a game-tying jump shot with 2:23 left. Lady Lions coach Casey Strahan called a timeout, but McAlester’s defense held, its guards playing Durant’s too tight for the Lady Lions to inbound the ball.
“They had good guards,” McAlester guard Maddie McGowan said.
“You just had to turn them. There was really no key — just play defense and try to get that trap up top that really helped us in the second quarter.”
Durant eventually stepped on the sideline before the throwing the ball in, resulting in a turnover. Robinson then went to the foul line and missed the first shot of a 1-and-1, but Durant couldn’t grab the rebound and the ball stayed with McAlester.
The Lady Lions eventually came away with a steal, but Robinson beat the fastbreak down the court and drew a charge on the opposite end. Garner went to the foul line with 43.2 seconds left, but she missed as well, continuing a night in which the Lady Buffs shot just 4-for-11 from the charity stripe.
Dawkins grabbed the offensive rebound off Garner’s miss, but Dawkins couldn’t score against taller, more physical Durant forwards like Makayla Patton, Summer Simeroth and Ciera Taylor. But Garner kept the possession alive with another offensive rebound, and Robinson eventually went back to the foul line with 36.7 seconds left in the game.
Robinson got her first free throw to drop in for a 35-34 lead.
“We were only getting one look in the first half,” Burns said. “We weren’t getting any offensive boards, so it was either a make and we run back, or it was a miss and we run back. So we really talked at halftime about getting some more offensive boards and getting second and third opportunities to score.”
Durant used another timeout, then Compton stole the inbounds pass at midcourt and went on the fastbreak. She drew a foul and sank one free throw for a 36-34 lead with 24.2 seconds left.
The Lady Lions had one last possession to win the game. The Lady Buffs twice failed to secure a defensive rebound after a miss, but when Durant guard Alexus Coxsey airballed the third shot of the possession, Dawkins grabbed the rebound to end the game.
“We got ourselves into a bind with foul trouble,” Strahan said. “There at the end, we weren’t able to come up with the plays we needed to come up with.”
Durant’s Rheagan Jones led all scorers with 13 points. Dawkins led the Lady Buffs with 10.
Dawkins jump shot early in the second half cut Durant’s lead to 1, then another put the Lady Buffs up 26-21. The team’s best rebounder Tuesday, Dawkins also put back an offensive rebound to give McAlester a 30-28 lead going into the fourth quarter.
“April (Calistro) was driving in and then kicking it out, getting double teams, so I was then getting open,” Dawkins said.
The Lady Buffs trailed the entire first half, which began with 5 straight points by Durant guard Alexa Richards. Katelynn Creekmore scored 4 in the first for McAlester, and Lacey McLain’s jump shot cut the lead to 8-6 going into the second quarter.
Jones’ 3-pointer put Durant up 13-8 early in the second, but Calistro later knocked down a 3-pointer for McAlester. Dawkins’ two free throws with 4.1 seconds made it 19-18 Durant at halftime.
With the win, McAlester improved to 7-12. Durant fell to 2-15.
Contact Matt Goisman at email@example.com.