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Lady Warriors Overcome Slow Start for Last-Second Win

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LAKE WALES, Fla. (SCWarriors.com) – The Lady Warriors set out for Florida with two things in mind, destress and have fun after finals, and earn two more wins before Christmas. They accomplished both in an early Friday afternoon win. Sterling took on the Warner University Royal, host of the Warner University Classic. The outcome was not determined until the final second when Korynn Clason sunk a pair of free throws to seal the 78-76 win for Sterling.

BOX SCORE

It took Sterling almost five minutes to get on the board for the second time in as many days, but this time they found themselves down just 6 points. Kali Briar opened the scoring for the Warriors with a deep wing three, but the excitement was short-lived as Sterling was held scoreless once again, this time for three minutes, and, although still early, the question was whether the Warriors would be able to hang on. With two and a half minutes left in the first quarter, Sterling was down 12-3. Sterling went on an 11-0 run to take a 14-12 lead, but a buzzer-beater by the Royals tied the game at 14 at the end of the first quarter. Briar and Clason were the sparks for Sterling, scoring 10 of the 14 first quarter points.

The Warriors struggled to maintain the rhythm they were in at the end of the first quarter and their offense was waning early in the second. Sterling quickly found themselves down ten points. The Warriors cut the lead to as few as 4, but as the second quarter came to an end, Sterling found themselves trailing 39-31.

A turnover-plagued third quarter made it difficult for Sterling to get anything going offensively. Overcoming offensive imperfections, Sterling was able to cut the Royal lead to just three after Briar hit a pair of free throws. It was also Briar that the Warriors turned to try to maintain pace with the Royals in the third. Briar scored 8 in the third quarter alone, missing just one field goal. Alyssa Heskamp was perfect from the field in the third quarter and added 5 points. At the end of the quarter, Warner added to their lead and held a 60-50 lead. Every time Sterling got back within arms reach, Warner separated themselves once again.

Finally, in the fourth quarter, Sterling was able to put something together. Clason got things going for Sterling and carried them through. She scored 15 of her game high 25 in the fourth quarter. The first six minutes and thirty seconds of the quarter, Sterling outscored Warner 18-3, turning a ten point deficit into a 5 point lead. Sterling’s largest lead was 8 points with ninety seconds left to play. Warner caught fire and scored 9 points to Sterling’s 1 to tie the game at 76 with ten seconds to play. In the ensuing possession, Clason got fouled as she made a move to the basket and was awarded two free throws with a half a second remaining in the game. Clason hit both free throws and Warner did not have enough time to get a shot off and the exciting comeback was complete for the Warriors. Sterling won the game 78-76.

Clason led Sterling with 25 points, 13 of those coming from a perfect performance from the free throw line, she also led all rebounders with 8, and had 5 assists. Briar added 17 points, 3 steals, and 3 assists. Heskamp scored 15 points and added 5 steals.

As a team, the Warriors outrebounded the Royals 36-27, but lost the turnover battle 25-16. Sterling shot 46% (26-57) from the field, 41% (7-17) from three point range, and 83% (19-23) from the free throw line.

Sterling is now done with the 2023 portion of the basketball season with a 7-5 record and are winners of four in a row. They return to action after the new year begins on January 3rd in the Gleason Center, taking on the newest member of the KCAC, Evangel University. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 pm.

Be sure to check for news and updates on Sterling Warrior Athletics on Facebook (/SCWarriors), Twitter (@SterlingCSports), and Instagram (sterlingcsports), as well as the hashtag #SwordsUp. Watch the Warriors’ live home events on the Sterling College Sports Network.