Middle Tennessee Christian (12-4) snapped the Cornersville Lady Bulldogs (10-3) six-game winning streak Friday night by narrowly defeating CHS 57-55 in Murfreesboro.
Having lost to the Lady Cougars 63-55 earlier in the season, Cornersville held a tenuous 53-52 lead with just under a minute left to play, but MTCS out scored the Lady Bulldogs 5-2 the rest of the way thanks to a lay up by Katie Dunn and three free throws to pull out the two-point victory.
"You hate to see kids play that hard and not come away with a win," said CHS head coach Micah Landers. "I wanted this one pretty bad. This wasn't a must win game, but it would have been a nice victory for us."
Although the Lady Cougars knocked down 5 of 13 three-point attempts, Cornersville limited MTCS to just 16 field goals 36 percent shooting. The Lady Cougars, however, made up for their offensive deficiencies at the foul line and knocked down 20 of 29 free throws overall, which included a 7 of 9 effort in the fourth quarter.
CHS, conversely, finished with 23 field goals on 44 percent shooting, grabbed 12 offensive boards, and out rebounded MTCS 31-25, but made just one trey and attempted only 16 free throws, hitting eight.
With the Lady Cougars trying to shut down Cornersville's leading scorer Sara Nelms, CHS center Sarah King had her way in the paint. Despite going against a strong low post duo in MTCS' Dunn and Kate Mullins, King hit 13 of 16 shots to finish with a career high 28 points and grabbed a game high 13 rebounds.
"She dominated. If she doesn't play as well as she did, we probably don't have a chance to win since they were so focused on Nelms," said Landers
Nelms tallied 13 points for the Lady Bulldogs as well, while Makenzie Hopkins added five points. Morgan Carroll (four points), Haley Fagan (four points), and Abbey Holder (one point) rounded out the scoring for Cornersville with Carroll also notching six rebounds and five assists.
Mullins paced the Lady Cougars with 18 points thanks to a 14 of 19 performance at the foul line, but hit only 2 of 14 field goal attempts. Alex Martin followed Mullins with 16 points, while Dunn and Sara Sims had 11 and eight points respectively.
The Lady Bulldogs inched out to a 9-7 lead midway through the first quarter behind seven points from King, before MTCS went on a 13-4 spurt to grab a 20-13 advantage early in the second.
King then put Cornersville on her back and poured in 16 points over the final six and a half minutes of the stanza to power a 20-9 CHS run and help give the Lady Bulldogs a 33-29 lead at the half.
After Cornersville pushed their lead to 35-30 early in the third period on a Hopkins jumper, the Lady Cougars outscored CHS 18-9 over the next seven minutes and forty-eight seconds to seize a 48-44 advantage with 6:26 left in the fourth.
The Lady Bulldogs responded with a 9-4 burst, capped by a short jumper in the lane by Fagan, to pull ahead 53-52 late in the fourth before Hopkins intercepted a MTCS pass to give Cornersville the ball with just over a minute left.
Dunn, however, made the biggest play of the game a few moments later when she stole the ball near mid court and scored on a lay up to put the Lady Cougars up 54-53 with :53 left.
CHS then came up empty on their next two possessions before Dunn nailed a couple of free throws with thirteen seconds remaining to make it 56-53.
Nelms made two foul shots to trim the deficit to 56-55, but Mullins was fouled with only three-tenths of a second left and hit one of two free throws for the 57-55 final.