WESTERVILLE, OHIO – Rochester made a number of key plays in the overtime period to emerge with a 63-61 victory over Oberlin College in the first round of the Smokey Ballenger Classic at Otterbein University on Saturday afternoon.
The win evens Rochester's record at 5-5. It is the fifth win in the last six games after an 0-4 start. Oberlin is 5-5 as well. On Sunday, Rochester will play Westminster (PA) College while Oberlin takes on host Otterbein. Westminster lost, 68-40, in Saturday's second game.
Lena Ethington produced another terrific double-double with 15 points and 16 rebounds (11 on the defensive glass). Julianna Okoniewski scored 12 points and grabbed five rebounds before fouling out. Lauren Foley had 10 points, and Moriah Kunes had eight points and four rebounds.
Between them, Foley and Kunes produced nine of Rochester's 12 overtime points. Kunes made a layup to put UR ahead, 53-51 at the start of the extra session. She added two free throws with 2:25 to go (UR, 57-56). Foley sank three free throws and made a backdoor layup. Her initial free throws in OT edged UR ahead, 55-54. The score was eventually tied at 57-57 after Oberlin was 3-4 at the line sandwiched around two free throws by Kunes.
With two minutes left, Foley cut backdoor to put Rochester ahead for good, 59-57. The lead grew to 61-57 when Gillian Mair stole the ball in the Oberlin front court, then broke ahead of the field for a layup. Oberlin's Olivia Canning and Ethington traded single free throws. Amy Driscoll was fouled as she missed a three-point shot. She made all three free throws to draw the Yeowomen within 62-61 with 10 seconds left. Foley was fouled immediately after a timeout and she sank the second of two from the line to restore a two-point edge. Driscoll hit the front of the rim from the OC foul line just before the final buzzer.
"Oberlin is a quality team and they have some big kids inside," said Rochester head coach Jim Scheible. The Yeowomen had four players in double figures: Canning finished with 15 points and three blocks. Cheyenne Arthur scored 11 points as did Leah Ross. Driscoll finished with 10, and Tyler Collins grabbed 10 boards to accompany three points.
"Moriah went after it," Scheible said of Kunes. "She grabbed some big boards and went to the rim. I thought in overtime she was huge."
Rochester controlled most of the first three periods. UR used a 14-4 run in the first quarter to build a 20-11 lead. The difference grew to 10 points, 26-16, after Okoniewski scored midway through the second period. She was tagged with two quick fouls after that. OC took advantage, finishing the period on an 8-3 run with Arthur providing all eight points. It was 29-24 at halftime.
Okoniewski opened the third quarter with three inside shots (35-24). Oberlin sliced the deficit to 37-32, but a layup by Okoniewski, two free throws and a jumper from Ethington, and a layup by Kunes gave the Yellowjackets a 45-36 lead heading into the fourth period.
The offensive prowess disappeared. OC climbed within 47-45 in the first five minutes. Camryn Fagan hit a hookshot in the lane (49-45 UR) before Canning took over for the Yeowomen. She made three of four from the line, fouling out Okoniewski in the process. She backed in for a layup with 46 seconds left to give OC a 50-49 lead. Driscoll made one of two from the line (51-49 OC) with 37 ticks left.
Ethington tied the score at 51-51 on a 12-footer in the lane. Oberlin held the ball for a final shot, but Canning was called for an illegal screen with just under four seconds left. UR got the inbounds pass to Ethington but her mid-range jumper was off the mark as the horn sounded.
"We found a way to get it to overtime and made some shots," Scheible said. "This is the first close game this year that we found a way win. If we can play tough defense and take care of the ball, we can be successful."