MURRAY — Murray and West duked it out in this contest like two heavyweight boxers trading blow for blow. But the Spartans were not to be denied in their own gym coming out on top in overtime 51-49.
Perhaps it was the pressure on West that they hadn't previously been accustomed to. "We had been blowing people out by 20-25 points said Panther coach Ronnie Stubbs. "We just turned it over two or three times too many."
Murray coach, Lisa White explained why she took off the pressure defense during the fourth quarter, "They were breaking through and getting quick baskets."
The first quarter was routine enough ending in a 13-13 tie. Then Chavalah Washington took over for the Spartans and started driving to the hoop. "She creates for others as well as herself," said White. The Spartans opened up a little breathing room at 21-15 but West came roaring back when Lindsey Britton hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to close the gap at half to 27-24.
Then Britton began the second half just like she ended the firstowith a trey. After that both teams traded baskets with the third quarter ending 36-35 for Murray.
The fourth quarter saw no daylight for either team exceeding a two point lead. With a two point lead and 1:55 in regulation, the Spartans put the ball in the freezer. This is where West was in unfamiliar territory. Finally at the 30 second mark, the Panthers figured out to foul. Murray missed both foul shots and Fusi Lutui went down to the other end and scored for West to tie the game.
The Spartans took immediate control off the overtime tip with Washington driving in for a layup. But again, the game was far from over. Leading 48-47 the Spartans again went into a stall. This time when the Panthers fouled, Elaina Pappas went to the line and drilled both shots for a 50-47 lead at the 39.0 mark. West couldn't convert and ended up fouling again. Final score: 51-49.
Fusi Lutui did everything in her power as she led West with 18 points. But Washington wasn't just named the Deseret News Prep Athlete of the Week for nothing. She poured in 19 points hitting a couple of treys to compliment her driving/slashing game. "And her defense was outstanding also," said White.
The Spartans also got good support from Shaylyn Kennedy who finished with 13.
White gave credit to West. "They came to play," she said. "They were very physical."