Emporia State’s defense held with 6.1 remaining as round two of the Turnpike Tussle turned into a charity stripe scuffle
before eventually going into overtime and ending in a 61-59 Hornet victory. With 6.1 seconds left to go and ESU up by one, the Hornets kept Washburn from attempting a shot to get the overtime victory.
“It was awesome,” said Senior Forward Alli Volkens. “We needed to finish the season strong. To come in here and get a win was huge for us. Senior year, beat ‘em here. Can’t get any better.”
The Hornets opened the first half with a two-headed attack as Volkens and Freshman Forward Kelsey Balcom combined for 24 of the Hornet’s 31 first half points. Volkens scored 15 of her 23 total points in the first half.
The game saw momentum shift back and forth as early on it went to the Hornets who opened up with a 19-9 lead. The Lady Blues countered with a 10-0 run to tie the game before ESU responded themselves going on their own 10-0 run to reclaim a 10 point lead.
The half ended in Washburn’s favor after a 7-2 run ending in a buzzer beater by Washburn guard Alyssa Mullen cut the Hornet lead to five points.
“Any ESU-Washburn game is going to have a lot of runs,” said Sophomore Guard Jocelyn Cummings. “Washburn had their runs. We had ours. We ended up punching it out in the end.”
The Lady Blues carried their momentum from the first half into the second as they went on a 7-0 run to take their first lead of the game.
ESU fought back with an 11-0 run behind three pointers from Cummings and Balcom as well as and-one from freshman guard Rheanna Egli.
The game would come down to free throw shooting after Washburn cut the lead to single digits in the final minutes. With both teams in the double-bonus, it came down to two big free throws from Alli Volkens with 1:44 remaining to give ESU a 55-53 lead. After free throws from Washburn, ESU would hold the Lady Blues to a difficult last second shot attempt to force overtime.
“We played great defense,” Volkens said. “We had a few mental lapses in which we’d foul the jump shooter, but I think down the stretch we really made them make some tough shots.”
Volkens finished what she had started in the first half as she scored four decisive points as well as grabbed a big rebound with 36.0 left in the game. With a 61-59 lead, the Hornets would run the clock down to six seconds after a shot clock violation. After a Washburn timeout, the Hornets defense didn’t allow the Lady Blues to get a shot off, securing the victory.
“Nothing about this team discourages me,” said Head Coach Jory Collins. “We’re young and inexperienced. I’m inexperienced. But we’re fighting hard together and I’m proud of them today.”
The Hornets – 17-8 overall and 14-7 in the MIAA – will look to continue their success at 5:30 p.m. Saturday as they take on Ft. Hays State in what is the final game at White Auditorium.