The Lady Pirates clawed their way back from an eight-point deficit in the fourth quarter to grab a late lead and executed well down the stretch.
The veteran coach just wished he had another timeout.
Lumberton had several looks at the rim in the final 30 seconds but couldn’t convert, falling 52-50 to Scotland on Senior Night in a battle for first place in the Southeastern Conference. The Lady Scots (17-3, 8-1) moved a game ahead of Lumberton (17-5, 7-2) in the SEC standings and can wrap up a regular-season championship Friday with a win over Richmond.
Lumberton needs a victory at Swett — a come-from-behind winner over Hoke Tuesday — and a Scotland loss.
“Our kids played really, really hard tonight,” Graham said. “We might have wasted a timeout there early in the fourth but you can’t get them back. I’m proud of the way we played.”
Trailing 43-35 two minutes in the final frame, Lumberton’s Keanna McNeil put pressure on the opposition with back-to-back 3-pointers from the left wing. She hit another a few possessions later with 4:18 remaining to put her team ahead 45-43. McNeil finished with a game-high 24 points and hit 6-of-9 3-pointers.
“Keanna was shooting the ball well,” Graham said. “We ask her to do a lot and she kind of carried us there.”
After converting a layup to tie the game and going ahead by one on a free throw from Quintavia DeBerry, Scotland seized a 48-45 advantage at the two-minute mark following Malasia Chisholm’s offensive rebound and put back in the lane.
The teams traded baskets before Lumberton held the ball for a final possession following consecutive misses on the front end of 1-and-1’s for the Lady Scots. Scotland’s defense held itself together and forced a deflection in the paint as time expired.
“Free-throw shooting has been our weakness all season,” Scotland coach David Johnson said. “It’s nice to see us pull out a close game. We’ve been played with one big and nine guards this year, so to be in front in the conference is a testament to our team’s toughness.”
South Robeson win sets up battle for first
ROWLAND — Two of Robeson County’s leading scorers nearly matched each other shot for shot in the second half Tuesday night in Rowland, but it was South Robeson who outlasted Red Springs, 59-52, to move into a tie for first place in the Three Rivers Conference.
The Lady Mustangs (13-6, 7-2) can win the league’s championship and capture a top playoff seed with a win Friday at East Columbus.
“My girls are playing at high level and believing in themselves,” South Robeson coach Lula Ratley said.
South Robeson freshman Aterria Quick scored a team-high 28 points, but Red Springs guard Robyn McPhaul kept her team in the game despite trailing most of the second half with a season-high 29-point effort.
Lady Bulldogs capture fourth straight
ST. PAULS — The St. Pauls girls basketball team continued its late-season turnaround Tuesday against West Columbus, disposing of the Lady Vikings, 59-26.
The Lady Bulldogs (11-11, 6-3) used intense defensive pressure to create a sizable lead at halftime and cruised the rest of the way. Tia Glover led her unit with 10 points and was one of 10 players to score for St. Pauls.