- Updated: March 5, 2016
No. 12 Scots overcome poor shooting, other oddities, to take NCAA opener
Maryville’s Mackenzie Puckett takes the floor during player introductions on Friday. Photos by Wallace Bowden
By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row
So did you see the guy in the student section with the coconut bikini top?
Allyson Freiermuth admitted she had, laughed, but would comment no further.
The Maryville College women’s basketball team overcame quite a bit to rally and defeat the University of Mary Washington, 67-56, in a first round NCAA Tournament game on Friday at Boydson Baird Gymnasium.
The No. 12-ranked Scots (25-3) withstood a night of 31 percent shooting, including 4-of-23 from 3-point range, to advance to today’s second round matchup with Birmingham Southern.
The Panthers (25-3) turned back Lynchburg, 56-50, in Friday’s first game.
Tipoff is 6 p.m.
Maryville, which trailed at the close of each of the first three quarters, got a game-high 22 points from senior All-American Mackenzie Puckett. The two-time USA South player of the year struggled with 4-of-15 shooting from the floor but was a perfect 13-for-13 from the free-throw line, including 8-for-8 in the final minute.
Freiermuth and guards Jordan Ballard and Lauren Biliter followed Puckett into double figures with 12 points each, Freiermuth just off the double-double with nine boards.
Ballard paced Maryville with a team-best five assists.
Indicative of a night the Scots simply had to find a way to win, guard Joanna Young equaled Freiermuth on the glass with nine rebounds.
“It was a little bit of a struggle and we were really excited to play,” Puckett said. “We kind of got caught up in it a little bit.”
When the shooting woes continued for much of the game, the Scots had no choice but to keep plugging away, said Freiermuth, who defied the norm to finish 4-of-5 from the floor, 4-for-4 from the stripe.
“We knew (the shots) were going to fall eventually,” she said.
The No. 20 Eagles (24-5), who weren’t dealt any favors by the selection committee in being bracketed with Maryville in the opening round, got 16 points and six boards from lefty Brianne Comden, 11 and seven from Elizabeth Dofflemyer. Frontcourt mate Sarah Listenbee was right there with the duo, adding 10 and six rebounds.
Mary Washington led 13-10 after a quarter, 26-22 at the half and 41-38 after three before Travallian moved the Scots to a 2-3 zone defense to start the fourth.
“We struggled getting into our sets,” Mary Washington coach Deeana Applebury said.
The Scots claimed their first lead when senior Linley Dunn put back a Maryville miss for a 42-41 advantage with nine minutes left.
“I told (assistant coach) C.J. (Dake), ‘If we could ever take the lead … ‘” Maryville coach Darrin Travillian said. “We took a timeout so it would give the crowd a chance to erupt.”
With Maryville holding a 44-43 lead with 7:55 remaining, the Eagles fell victim to a five-minute scoring drought that concluded with the Scots pulling clear, 53-43, on Biliter’s baseline jumper with 2:40 to play.
Inside the final two minutes, Maryville was a crisp 14-of-16 from the line to close it out.