WAUWATOSA, WI (December 29, 2018) - On Friday evening, the Bryant & Stratton College women's basketball team squared off against the North Iowa Area Community College Trojans at the Illinois Central Classic where they came up short in the final minutes 77-70.
The Bobcats went up against NIACC earlier this season in November at the NIACC Thanksgiving Challenge where they suffered a 117-95 loss.
Despite the loss, the Bobcats sit at 10-6 overall and 5-3 in region play.
An intense back and forth battle throughout the first half, the Bobcats trailed 35-32 with just seconds remaining before sophomore forward, Brandilyn Robertson, knocked down two free throws cutting the deficit to one point (35-34) at the break.
"We were sitting in a good spot at halftime," Bobcats head coach Jeff Lorenz said. "Being down by just one point to the number three ranked team in the country was a good sign for our ball club."
In the third, it was the Trojans with all of the momentum as they went on a 20-8 run and led 55-42 with 24 seconds remaining in the quarter.
As the clock dwindled, the Bobcats produced a much needed stop defensively followed by a tough contested jumper from Robertson which closed the gap to 11 points (55-44) to start the fourth.
"Give them (NIACC) credit," Lorenz said. "They were extremely aggressive to start the second half which allowed them to take all of the momentum."
To start the fourth, it was sophomore forward, Maddy McCoy, who got things rolling for the Bobcats as she drew a foul and sunk two free throws bringing the deficit down to single digits (55-46) with plenty of time left for a comeback.
With just under five minutes left in the contest, Bryant & Stratton trailed 64-54 but managed to surge out on a 8-3 run reducing the gap to five (67-62) at the two minute mark.
Keeping momentum on their side, Bobcats guard, Essence Rayford, brought the score to a three point game (67-64) after a coast-to-coast layup with under two minutes remaining.
"Our energy picked up," Lorenz said. "We were crashing the boards and attacking offensively which opened up a lot of doors for us."
Over the course of the final minute, the comeback came to a halt as the Trojans went on a 10-6 run to close out the game giving Bryant & Stratton their sixth loss of the season.
"It was a battle down the stretch and I am proud of how we handled adversity tonight," Lorenz said.
The Bobcats had three players scoring in double figures as Rayford led the way with 14 points followed by freshman guard, Taynique Hawthorne, dropping 12 points and five rebounds.
McCoy produced a double-double with 10 rebounds and a team-high 14 boards.
The Bobcats shot 30% from the field and just 14.3% from long range which marks as their second losest 3pt% this season.
Bryant & Stratton will look to bounce back after the loss as they take on Sauk Valley Community College in round number two of the ICC Holiday Classic on Saturday at 12:00pm.
The three day holiday tournament is hosted by Illinois Central Community College located Peoria, IL.
Spectators can view the game live on the OFFICIAL YOUTUBE CHANNEL.