University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma picked the perfect time Thursday night to come into the Claremore Expo and break the hearts of the Rogers State Lady Hillcats.
Valentine's Day usually brings flowers and candy, not missed free throws and wayward layups.
The Lady Drovers of USAO were certainly no Cupids as they pulled out a double overtime, 81-76 Sooner Athletic Conference basketball victory.
Former Claremore Lady Zebra standout Hayley KnifeChief forced the extended play with not one, but two, 3-point bombs just before the buzzers at the end of regulation and again at the conclusion of the first overtime.
Unable to convert free throws at the start, the Chickasha-based visitors were 6 for 6 in the closing seconds of the second overtime to take the win.
With Charite Lewis, Luanna Jose and Juliana Leite stepping up at the line, USAO outscored the Hillcats, 6-3, during the final 42 seconds of the game.
Leite opened the second extra session with a 3-pointer to break a 68-68 tie. Her successful shot forced RSU to play catch-up the rest of the way.
It was just the opposite for most of the regular game. RSU took a 9-7 lead at 13:05 in the first half on KnifeChief's first of four treys. The Hillcats didn't turn loose of it until Yesi Castillo raced the length of the floor for a Drover layup with 7:10 left in the second half. USAO went on top. 47-46. Castillo then added two free throws and another layup to open a 51-46 edge.
It was time for RSU to make a run of its own. At the 3:57 mark, Yoda Woods connected for two free throws. KnifeChief did the same. Then, at 1:44, Katie Rice hit a two-point basket and RSU was up, 52-51.
The lead didn't hold. The Drovers moved back in front and were leading, 57-54, with 30 seconds on the clock when KnifeChief nailed the first tying trey.
USAO missed a 27-footer as time ran out.
The visitors wasted no time when the overtime started. A quick five points went on their side of the scoreboard. RSU answered with a KnifeChief two, a foul shot by Azzie Knox, and a 3-pointer by Hunter Peterson. RSU led, 63-62, but it would be the final time to be in front.
Lewis, the game's leading scorer with 23 points, and Leite followed with four consecutive free throws. Woods broke the spell with a Hillcat layup, but Castillo made it a three-point game again with a pair of foul shots.
This set the stage for KnifeChief. More than 22 feet away from the basket, the cool freshman let the ball sail again. It hit nothing but net.
"I am so proud of the girls for their effort tonight, but we missed too many free throws and open layups to win a close game like this," Hillcat coach Amy Williams said. "We have stressed both of these time and time again. Maybe we are doing it too much, but we must improve on both."
In dropping their fourth straight game, RSU made 15 of 32 free throws. USAO, after a slow beginning, recovered to score 26 points at the free throw line in 37 attempts.
The Drovers, improving to 14-10 for the year and 10-7 in SAC play, finished with four players in double figures. Backing Lewis' 23 points were Castillo with 16 and Leite and Jose with 12 each. Lewis and Castillo had double-doubles with 18 and 17 rebounds, respectively.
RSU is 11-13 and 7-9 in its first season. Last month, USAO posted a 88-74 victory over the Hillcats.
Woods finished with 16 points for the Hillcats and Knox had 10.
The game marked the school's first basketball contest to go into overtime.
USAO 81, RSU 76
USAO 19 38 11 13 — 81
Rogers State 28 29 11 8 — 76
USAO — Lewis 23, Castillo 16, Leite 12, Jose 12, Rambo 9, Vann 7, Flores 2.
RSU — KnifeChief 21, Woods 16, Knox 10, Peterson 9, Taylor 8, Rice 8, Parker 4.