By Bryce Marsee
The 13th-ranked women's basketball team dropped its first game of the season Wednesday night, falling to conference foe Mount Vernon Nazarene in double overtime. The Cougars pulled out the win on a buzzer-beater by guard Melissa Eickholt.
Trailing by two with 10 seconds to play, senior Erin Guarneri pulled down an offensive rebound and made the put-back layup, tying the game up at 77 a piece. After a Taylor timeout, Eickholt dribbled the length of the court and managed a layup to fall as time expired, and the Trojans lost 77-79. "The biggest thing was they came out ready to play, and we didn't," said Taylor Head Coach Tena Krause. "We came out and didn't have the intensity or focus we needed, and you just can't do that in a conference game."
The Trojans found themselves down early as Mount Vernon sparked a 12-3 run to start the game. Down 5-16 a few minutes later, Taylor caught fire, going on a 14-2 run of their own. The run was capped off by junior Rayana Carneiro's two-point shot, giving the Trojans their first lead of the game. The two teams remained about even the rest of the first half, although Mount Vernon managed to head into the locker room with a six-point lead. The second half began much like the first. The Cougars built their lead back up to double digits, but the Trojans battled back once again. Down 13 with 13:06 left in the game, Taylor found the hot hand in junior Kelsey Bryant. The junior scored seven points during the Trojans' 12-3 run which brought Taylor back within striking distance with 5:56 left in the game. Taylor found themselves back in control of the game after Bryant knocked down a free throw to give the Trojans a three-point lead with 34 seconds remaining. Mount Vernon struck back, hitting a high-arching three-pointer just 10 seconds later, sending the game into its first overtime. In overtime, the Cougars got off to a fast start, building a six-point lead halfway into the five-minute period. The Trojans remained in the game, thanks to junior Becca Daniels, who managed to score five points in a 30-second stretch. Down three, Taylor put the ball in the hands of senior Tess Rudolph with nine seconds remaining. The senior made a huge three-point shot, sending the game into a second overtime. Both teams remained even through most of double overtime, as well. Taylor was able to lead by as many as four but was never able to pull away, leading to a nail-biting ending. Down two with 20 seconds remaining, Guarneri pulled down a huge offensive rebound and made a putback layup to tie the game. After a Taylor timeout, Eickholt then finished the game with the last-second shot. The Trojans average 83-points a game, but they struggled this time to get the offense going. They committed 30 turnovers and shot 31 percent from the field. Rudolph led the Trojan offense in scoring, recording 23 points. Bryant and Guarneri chipped in 12 and 11, respectively. Guarneri also led the team with senior Erika Redweik in rebounds, as the two both pulled down eight boards. The Trojans moved to 7-1 on the year and 1-1 in conference play. Taylor now turns their attention to the No. 15 Bethel Pilots. The top-25 showdown is scheduled to tip off at 1 p.m. tomorrow in Odle Arena.