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#Mission ends in heartbreak

Women's Basketball beaten at the buzzer at Big Sky Championships

By Domenic Grey
On March 9, 2017

A bucket with two seconds left from Idaho state University sends the UNC women's basketball team home, ending their season and a chance to play in the NCAA tournament as they lose 60-59, in Reno.

ISU sophomore Saylair Grandon was able to maneuver through the top of the key, before pulling up and hitting the game-winning jumper.

"It was just a typical postseason game against two evenly matched teams. A lot of credit to Idaho State for coming into Reno with confidence and believing they can win here every year. We had the opportunities to stretch the lead out, but just couldn't,” said head coach Kamie Ethridge.

It's the second straight season that the Bears has exited the Big Sky Tournament in their opening game.

UNC had three players in double digits, led by Courtney Smith who had 22 points and four rebounds, while Savannah Scott had 15, and Savannah Smith had 10.

The first quarter was back and forth. Both teams started off hot, with neither team unable to pull away from each other. UNC was able to attack ISU down low, as they made half their points from in the paint. The biggest lead was only four as the Bears led ISU 16-14 going into the second quarter.

UNC found their groove on the offensive end in the second quarter. They were able to score in the paint as well as from the 3-point line. By the six-minute mark, the Bears lead ballooned to 27-17. The final six minutes belonged to Idaho State as UNC lost their shooting touch and couldn't stop ISU from getting to the rim. The lead that was 10 was now only 1, going into halftime. 29-28.

"It was just timely turnovers and we just didn't make baskets when we needed to," said Savannah Scott. On Idaho State's comeback.

Both teams started the second half, the same way they started the first. It was a close quarter that featured six lead changes and six ties. Both ISU and UNC pounded the ball in the paint and getting to the free throw line. Savannah Smith hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Bears a 45-43 lead going into the fourth quarter.

UNC had a little bit of momentum going into the final period. UNC went on a 6-0 run with under four minutes to go, pushing the lead to six, but It was short lived. Idaho State was able to with the bench scoring 9 of the 15 points. UNC was up by three with 47 seconds left and only needed one stop to seal the game, but that stop never came as Idaho State tied the game up with a three pointer. After being fouled, Courtney Smith was only able to make one of her two free throws. That left the door open for Grandon to hit the jumper with 2.2 left. After UNC called a timeout, they knew they only had time for a quick shot. Savannah Smith took the inbound put up a 10-foot jumper that rimmed out as time expired.

The trip wasn't all bad. Monday night, Savannah Smith and Savannah Scott received all conference honors. Smith landed on first team, while Scott landed on the second team.

The loss ends the opportunity of making the NCAA tournament, but the door is still open for the Bears to make the NIT Tournament.

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