Martina McCowan scored 30 points to lead battered No. 5 St. Mary’s (7-4, 4-0) to a 63-60 overtime win over Tualatin (6-5, 2-2) Wednesday night.
“She’s the leader of our team and it showed tonight,” head coach Dewey Taylor III said.
The Blues battled injuries and foul trouble all night against a fiesty Timberwolves team, who beat No. 2 Oregon City earlier this season.
Sophomore guard Bendu Yeaney began the game on the bench and didn’t enter the action until there was four minutes left in the first quarter. Another starting guard, Tasia Bilbrew suffered a possible concussion in the second quarter and never returned. Yeaney fouled out of the game with eight seconds left in regulation and was forced to watch overtime from the sideline.
Without two of her top scoring teammates on the floor at pivotal moments, McCowan took it upon herself to lead the way.
“I just felt the need to step and lead my troops to get the ‘W’ tonight,” McCowan said.
It would have been easy for St. Mary’s to fold in the first half. The Blues got down 17-9 early in the second quarter. Turnovers were an issue as Taylor preached during a timeout that his team needed to be more disciplined in order to get back into the game.
“I think we did a good job,” Taylor said. “Again, you lose so many soldiers but our leader did it for us tonight.”
McCowan scored the next four Blues points to instill some much-needed offensive stability. The Blues went on to take a 20-19 lead after a McCowan three with 3:45 left in the second quarter. Bilbrew suffered her head injury during the run, but the Blues kept pressing. McCowan had nine points at halftime as the teams went into locker room tied at 26.
St. Mary’s came out with new defensive intensity in the third quarter. Tualatin didn’t score until a Tamika Etherly three-pointer with 3:37 left in the third quarter. Etherly led the Timberwolves with 15 points.
“Defensively, we just moved our feet and didn’t gamble with the reach as much,” Taylor said.
Meanwhile, McCowan scored 11 of the Blues’ 15 third quarter points. She attacked the rim for easy layups, converted free throws, and buried a three-pointer. The senior couldn’t be stopped.
“Over and over when it came time to make a big free throw, or have a teammate in the right place, she directed,” Taylor said. “She did my job out there on the court.”
Despite McCowan’s offensive dominance, Tualatin kept close thanks to a barrage of three-pointers. The Timberwolves made six of their nine triples in the second half and trailed just 41-37 entering the fourth quarter.
McCowan got help from senior post Tyschal Blake in the fourth quarter. Blake was a presence on the boards and consistently drew fouls into the paint. The duo scored 26 of the Blues’ 28 second half points. Blake finished the game 17 points.
Drawing fouls paid dividends for St. Mary’s as they entered the bonus with five minutes left in regulation. Tualatin didn’t reach the bonus until there was three minutes left in overtime.
St. Mary’s shot 7 for 11 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter. Just enough makes to stay in front. But, just enough misses to give Tualatin one last chance.
Tualatin forward Nikki Miller, who scored ten of her 14 points in the second half, buried a three-pointer with 28 seconds left to tie the game at 54.
After missing a possible game-winning shot, Yeaney committed her fifth foul with eight seconds remaining. Tualatin was unable to get a shot up at the buzzer as the game went into overtime.
McCowan added six more points in overtime and the Blues never trailed. Tualatin, once again, had possession with a chance to tie the game, but Sam Harris’ short jumper bounced off the front of the rim and the Blues rebounded to seal the win.
“Tonight, I’m just proud of my kids,” Taylor said. “To be short-handed, lose a player like Bendu Yeaney to fouling, Tasia a possible concussion. We just battled.”
St. Mary’s will look to build off the thrilling win at Silverton on Friday night. Tualatin will look to end a four-game losing streak when they host Lakeridge Friday night.