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FORT WAYNE, Ind. -- Kayla Drake, Meghan Slusher and Jenelle Wilson combined on a special delivery to make the difference to give fourth-ranked University of Saint Francis a heart-pounding 52-49 win over 14th-ranked Bethel College in a crucial Crossroads League game on Saturday afternoon at Hutzell Athletic Center.
Drake slipped between two defenders and banked in a running jumper from about 8-feet out returning the lead to the Lady Cougars with seven seconds left to play. After a Slusher steal, Wilson was fouled and calmly buried two free throws with 0.8 second left to seal USF's ninth consecutive win.
The Pilots had taken a 49-48 lead with 16 seconds to play when Katy Stuppy scored inside setting up Drake's dramatic shot.
USF (24-2, 13-1 CL) held on to a share of first place in the CL to set up an NAIA Top 5 clash and CL showdown at top-ranked Indiana Wesleyan University on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Drake and Wilson both wore smiles of relief, but still shaky immediately after the nail-biting win.
"I knew comin' out of the timeout, I was going to take the shot, but I'll have to watch it on tape to see what really happened because I don't remember the ball goin' in," Drake said with a laugh after scoring 21 points. "I knew I wanted the ball in my hands. I acted like I was goin' to over the screen because I had been goin' over the screen all day, and I just tried to get to the hoop.
"What I remember thinkin' was 'Where's my man? I gotta get my man."
"Huge" was the word Wilson used to describe Drake's lead-regaining shot.
"I almost jumped up and down I was so happy," Wilson said after scoring 12 points including the only two 3-pointers. "Kayla is just so good at that, finds her way in there and gets to the rim. We know she can do that, so it wasn't a surprise, it was such a relief."
USF Head Coach Gary Andrews praised Drake for her leadership and execution in the cluch.
"She just took the game into her own hands, did a great job of taking the ball hard to the basket, got bumped a little bit and yet was strong enough to finish," Andrews said. "She squeezed in there and hit a big shot. Just a great job by her."
Wilson said she was still very nervous stepping to the line to shoot the free throws with less than a second to play.
"I was nervous because we were just up a point and they coulda easily chucked one down there and made it," Wilson said. "I just tried to follow my normal routine and not think about (the situation) and I made them both, so I was happy."
The Lady Cougars opened up a 46-39 lead with 5:28 to play after Drake scored, but the Pilots (20-6, 10-4 CL) charged back to within a point, 46-45, on a Johnson basket with 3:15 to play. Both teams misfired 3-pointers in the next two possessions, but Wilson scored with 2:13 to play increasing the Lady Cougars' lead to 48-45 with 2:13 to play. Stuppy whitled the USF advantage to a point when she nailed a pair of free throws with 1:38 to play. Slusher missed the front end of a 1-and-bonus with 34 seconds to play and Ort then scored to give BC its first lead since 7-6 at 14:22 in the first half.
Wilson said the defense was the difference in the rematch after the Pilots won 80-71 in overtime in the first meeting on Jan. 5 at BC.
"We didn't have the best offensive day today, but both teams played such good defense," Wilson said.
"We did a great job on defense after Drake made the shot," Andrews said. "Points were at a premium because of the way both teams played defense. We knew goin' in they can shoot from downtown, so I thought our defense was awesome this afternoon."
USF shot .383 connecting on 18-of-47 shots while BC shot .294 hitting 15-of-51 shots, .250 in the first half on 7-for-28 shooting. BC came into the game No. 5 in NAIA Division II 3-pointers made per game at 9.0, but the Pilots only hit 5-of-26 attempts (.182).
"When the buzzer went off," Andrews answered with a chuckle when asked when he relaxed.
After Kristen Hicks hit a long 3-pointer pulling BC within a point, 29-28, at 16:03, Wilson retaliated with a 3-pointer for a 32-28 USF lead with 15:13 to play. The Lady Cougars bumped the lead up to six four times, then eight at 44-36 after Brooke Ridley hit a pair of free throws at 8:27. USF still led 46-39 with 5:28 to play before the Pilots rallied down the stretch.
An Indiana teenager honored for helping save two children from icy waters in 2010 has died in a weekend shooting.
Police have identified a person of interest in Sunday’s stabbing outside of a home on Bluebird Court, off of St. Joe Road.
Police are looking for a white man who is 6'0" to 6'2" with a thin build they say robbed a CVS in November. He may have been driving a gray or dark green Ford SUV.
Police from several agencies have responded to multiple crashes overnight due to slick roads from a wintry mix that moved through the area late Sunday and early Monday morning.
A rural Angola man faces six felony charges for allegedly sexually assaulting a 26-year-old woman.
A local family wants help in making sure their loved one's murderer stays in prison.
Police said a man barricaded himself inside of a home on Genessee Avenue early Sunday morning for more than two hours after threatening to commit suicide.
Detectives believe a three-year-old boy may have shot himself at a home in Indianapolis Saturday night. Police said the shooting appears to have been accidental.
There will be several holiday-themed events this weekend in the Fort Wayne area, including Christmas displays, children’s parties, visits from Santa Claus, and more.
The 122nd Fighter Wing hosted the annual Airman of the Year Awards on Saturday afternoon to celebrate the achievements of members of the 122nd.
Saturday marked the 72nd anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. Fort Wayne area veterans and their families met for a service at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum to remember those who lost their lives back on December 7, 1941.
A doctor who performs abortions in Fort Wayne, Gary and South Bend has been asked to appear before the Indiana Medical Licensing Board.
Each year, students at Taylor University attend a men's basketball game and are completely silent until the Trojans score their 10th point of the game. The game is known as "Silent Night."
Governor Mike Pence is directing flags at Indiana state facilities be flown at half-staff on Saturday, Dec. 7 in honor of Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.
A national campaign wants the NFL's Washington Redskins to change its name to not be offensive to Native Americans, and it could effect teams across the country.