With the game hanging in the balance, junior Brittaney Jefferson took over.
The point guard scored 12 of her game-high 22 points in the fourth quarter as Wilmington ended the regular season with the 67-54 victory over Mount Union Saturday in Ohio Athletic Conference action at Fred Raizk Arena in Hermann Court.
Mount Union had just trimmed its seven point deficit to two midway through the fourth quarter, and if Wilmington had any flashbacks to the Purple Raider comeback in the third quarter, Jefferson (Dayton, OH/Chaminade Julienne) made sure there wouldn’t be a repeat. She scored eight of WC’s 14 points during the game-ending 14-3 run to secure the victory.
“Brittaney is not a natural point guard and it’s still not her preferred position, but she was forced into playing it this year,” said Wilmington head coach Jerry Scheve. “She has slowly gotten better and the play she made at the end of the first half was probably one of the best all season in the terms of understanding what needs to be done.
“The other thing I told her was good scoring point guards get their teammates involved early in the game, but when the game is on the line, they shine; and that is what she did today.”
Wilmington improved to 10-15 overall, 7-11 OAC, and will be the seventh seed in the upcoming tournament. The Fightin’ Quakers travel to No. 6 John Carroll 7:30 p.m. Monday.
The Fightin’ Quakers scored the first eight points of the game and dominated the first half, taking an 11-point lead after the first 10 minutes. It was much of the same in the second quarter and WC continued to find the Mount Union shooters, while forcing the Purple Raiders to take tough shots.
Mount Union, the league’s top three-point shooting team, went 0-for-11 in the first half, and the Fightin’ Quakers led by 15 points at the break. But it was still an uncomfortable feeling in the home locker room.
“We told them at halftime the team was going to make a run at us, and they were going to go zero for the second half from the three-point line,” said Scheve. “They are a great shooting team. We were trying to make them realize we are good team too.
“When we were at Mount Union, we built a big lead, it disappeared quickly and then we disappeared,” Scheve continued. “Today’s we got the big lead, it disappeared quickly, but we hung in there and played a great fourth quarter with a lot of composure and confidence.”
The Purple Raiders tallied the first 10 points of the third quarter, and with less than two minutes left in the quarter, Mount Union had seized its first lead of the game. After not hitting a single three-pointer in the game’s first 20 minutes, they were 4-of-7 from deep during the run.
However, Wilmington learned from past experiences, and put their growth on full display. WC reclaimed the advantage, and took a one-point lead into the final quarter.
After Mount Union regained the lead one minute into the period, the Fightin’ Quakers scored 10 of the next 12 points to earn some breathing room. While the visitors pulled to within one possession, Jefferson made sure they didn’t get the lead again.
“It’s always great to be able to win on Senior Night,” said Scheve. “Our team traditionally plays well in this game. I was pleased to see (Alexandria Kingsbery) have a big part in this win, giving us some very good minutes. I think this is a team that is growing every day.”
In her final home game, Kingsbery (Lima, OH/Central Catholic) finished with six points, one rebound, one block and one steal.
Jefferson finished with 22 points, five rebounds, a team-high three assists and one steal, while two other players tallied double-doubles.
Junior Mary Moyer (Martinsville, OH/Clinton Massie) recorded her fifth double-double, and her second in the last three games, with 13 points and a career-high tying 14 boards. Freshman Mackenzie Campbell (Cincinnati, OH/Turpin) added 15 points and 10 rebounds. Campbell finished the regular season leading all Ohio Athletic Conference freshmen in both scoring and rebounding.