BERLIN CENTER, OH (WKBN) – The United Eagles and Western Reserve Blue Devils don’t usually play each other due to being in different divisions of the ITCL, but they should. The Lady Eagles survived a spirited Blue Devil comeback to 47-44 on the Devils’ home court. The victory improves the Eagles to 8-4 on the season while the Devils drop to 5-5.
“Exciting game. We have been preparing hard for this (game) over Christmas break. We knew this could be one of our signature wins if we could get one tonight because Western Reserve has a heck of a program,” Eagles coach Sam Mathias remarked. “I’m just super excited for these guys, they busted their butts.”
The Eagles won the game in the final two minutes with the game tied at 43-43 as Eagles senior guard Shanna Miller was fouled and connect on both shots to give her team a 45-43 lead with 1:55 remaining. Following both teams turning the ball over twice, Miller would once again nail two free throws with only 32-seconds remaining. On the night Miller would hit 7 of 8 free throws.
“I take a lot of pride in my foul shots,” Miller said. “I’m confident in my foul shots over anything in basketball. I just wanted to get the ball in my hands to get fouled and make the foul shots. That what I can contribute as a player.”
“”Shanna loves free throw shooting,” Mathias added. “It’s a competition for us in practice and for games. Every day she is asking ‘am I ahead, how much am I ahead by, what am I shooting’. It was awesome to see her succeed at that tonight”
The Eagles as a team essentially won the game at the free throw line as they converted 17 of 20 shots. Conversely, the Devils only converted 7 of 17 free throws on the night.
“We can play some decent defense, but when we allow people to drive right around us and then we do selfish fouling and continue to put them at the foul line. What we said going in was to keep them off the foul line,” Devils coach Steve Miller remarked. “They shot layups and free throws all day long and ended up with 47 points.”
The Eagles grabbed an early lead in the game as they opened with a 5-0 run before Sydney Miller of the Devils hit a layup to get the Devil on the scoreboard at the 4:02 mark of the first quarter. The Eagles would hold a 11-7 advantage at the end of the period.
The Eagles would stretch their lead to 8-poits midway through the second quarter courtesy of a 8-4 run to start the stanza. The Devils would close the deficit to just 3-points at halftime with a 10-5 run to close the quarter. A three-point basket by the Devils Lauren Falasca with 21-seconds remaining in the quarter propelled that run.
The Devils then grabbed their first lead of the game in the third quarter again powered by Falasca as she hit two consecutive three-pointers. The first at the 6:12 mark tied the game at 26, then she connected again at the 5:50 mark to give the Devils a 29-27 lead. The Devils added to their lead as they stretch out to a 6-points with a 39-33 lead at the close of the third quarter. That is when the Eagles used their near perfect foul shooting to pull past the Devils as they outscored the them 14-5 in the final frame.
“This means a lot. We had a lot of people doubting us out there and this win as a team felt really nice and it’s going to make us become even stronger,” Shanna Miller said.
“I’m not proud of our performance. I’m not proud of our body languish. I’m not proud of our effort or our execution,” coach Steve Miller said. “We lose composure at times, we played selfish on offense and on defense. We all had our own agenda. Tonight I felt we had five different brains out there, and they worked as one. So the better team won tonight, and it certainly wasn’t us.”
On the night the Eagles were led in scoring by Lauren Beech who scored 12, followed by Shanna Miller with 11 and Kassie Chestnut with 10. Miller and Lindsey Donato each had 5 rebounds to pace the Eagles.
The Devils were led by Falasca with 16 points while Sydney Miller added 14. Miller also grabbed 5 rebounds to lead the Devils on the boards.
The Eagles also captured the j-v contest as they won 29-20.