EVANSVILLE — If it happened to be a postseason game, they would have “survived and advanced.”
But on Saturday, the Princeton Community girls’ basketball team, just simply survived.
The Lady Tigers rallied from a five-point deficit over the final 5 minutes, 50 seconds to come away with a 50-44 win at Evansville Central.
The come-from-behind win moved the Lady Tigers to 3-1 on the season.
“It was a little disappointing in the fact we did not execute on both ends of the floor like we should have throughout the entire game,” Lady Tigers’ coach Brittany Maners said. “But I was proud in the end we finally started doing what we were supposed to do and that is what got us the win.”
Maners called for a timeout after falling behind 40-35 with 5:50 left on the clock. Cortney Dove took a pass from Gracy Key and knock down a jumper from the free-throw line which started a 15-4 rally to end the game.
“That was a big shot,” Maners said of her 6-foot sophomore. “We should have gotten her the ball a lot more throughout the game, but we were just not finding or getting the ball in the hands of the people like we should have. That is something we are going to have to fix as we play against better teams.”
Dove was sidelined most of the second period due to early foul trouble. She had just two points in the first half but finished with eight points.
Erica Johnson broke a 42-all score as she knocked down a pair of free throws with 2:02 left on the clock.
Key was fouled on the play as she drove to the basket, but was removed from the game with an ankle injury. Johnson replaced Key at the line with what turned out to be the game-winning points.
“I was pretty nervous,” Johnson said of coming off the bench and stepping to the line with the game tied. “But I knew I wanted to make the free throws for Gracy so I just tried to block everything else out of my head.”
The junior hit two more free throws with 24.8 seconds left to extend the Lady Tigers’ lead to 48-44.
“I was just trying to help my team win,” Johnson said. “And it felt good.”
She finished with a career-high nine points.
“She was super composed in those situations,” Maners said of her bench player. “Erica has had an unbelievable last three or four practices so there was no doubt she was ready. But it’s still hard to come in cold off the bench like that and knock down those free throws. I am proud of her for that and nobody deserves it more than her.”
Johnson also hit a 3-pointer in the first half which gave Princeton a 26-19 lead — its largest of the game.
The Lady Tigers led 15-12 after the first eight minutes of play and 26-20 at the half.
Central outscored the visitors by seven points in the third to carry a 36-35 lead into the final stanza.
Hannah Sisk led the Tigers with 15 points, including nine in the second half. The junior made 9-of-10 free throws in the game including going 4 for 4 in the fourth.
“Hannah finally turned it on for us and became aggressive in the second half,” Maners said of her leading scorer on the season.
Key added nine points before leaving the game.
“Gracy has been a ball of energy for us the last couple of games,” the Lady Tigers’ coach said. “She’s going to be a big loss for us until we can get her back healthy. Hopefully we can bounce back.”
Princeton plays host to Mount Vernon on Tuesday.