It was supposed to be a night of celebration at Orange, but Northwood had other plans as they upset the Panthers 63-60 to spoil a once-undefeated season.
Tied at 54 in the final two minutes, Northwood freshman Jyreah Smith hit a layup to put her team up 56-54. After an Orange turnover, Northwood senior Kadie Snipes converted an and-one that put the Chargers up 59-54 with 40 seconds remaining. That looked to be the end of things, but missed free throws and quick buckets found Orange with the ball, down 61-58, with 20 seconds showing on the clock.
With a chance to tie, Kaylen Campbell’s three missed the mark, but Mia Davidson picked up the offensive rebound, her 17th total rebound in the game. Davidson looked to swing it back out, but her pass was intercepted by Smith, who was immediately fouled. Smith calmly sank both free throws to clinch the game for Northwood.
Despite the close score, Northwood head coach Cameron Vernon had all the confidence in the world in his team in the closing minutes.
“How can you not have confidence in a team that lost 60 percent of their scoring in the first two games of the season?” said Vernon “They’re 18-5, second place in the conference, and just beat an undefeated team on their court. They stepped up and have heart. You can’t teach that.”
Trailing by three heading into the fourth, Snipes led the comeback charge for Northwood. She had seven points in the quarter, including five in the final minute and a half. Snipes finished with 16 points in the game.
“I just tried to relax and get our team to stay calm,” said Snipes. “I just didn’t want the crowd to get to us, just wanted to keep our composure.”
Playing in front of a big crowd on Alumni and Senior Night, Orange came out a bit tense. They turned the the ball over 15 times in the half, leading to easy fast break points for Northwood. Davidson kept Orange in the game with 10 points and 11 rebounds in the first half as they went into the locker room down 32-27.
“There was a lot of stuff going on tonight,” said Orange coach B.J. Condron. “The jitters were high before the game.”
Orange opened the third quarter on a 9-3 game to tie things before taking the lead late in the third.
Orange now sits at 21-1 on the season, but this loss means the Big 8 regular season conference title is up for grabs. Orange is 10-1 in the Big 8, while Northwood is 9-2 after Friday’s battle.
While a team never wants to lose, Condron is hoping to learn from this loss and that his girls play more relaxed moving forward.
“We talked a little after the game about how now the pressure is off, if there was any pressure,” said Condron. “We just need move on.”