William Chrisman’s Jacque David was sick. Truman’s Jewel Hart suffered a leg injury in the second quarter of Wednesday’s game.
Both of those girls basketball teams had a battle on their hands with one of their best players either ill or hurt.
David was able to play the entire game but was limited because of foul trouble. That normally wouldn’t bode well for a young Bears team facing an experienced Truman team.
But Chrisman found a way.
It found a way via an unlikely source. Reserve guard Abigayle Emmons received a pass from Adreal Bell and drained a 3-pointer from the right wing with 9 seconds left to give her team a 1-point lead. Truman guard Erin Davis raced to the other end and flipped up a layup that rimmed out and the Bears got the rebound and ran out the remaining 3 seconds on the clock to claim the Three Trails Trophy with a 45-44 win at home.
Emmons surprised herself more than anyone by hitting the game-winning shot. Truman led for most of the second half and there were only two points in the final 16 minutes that Chrisman held the lead. Emmons three gave them the most important lead of all.
“Honestly, I didn’t think I was going to make it,” Emmons said. “I was just so into the game, that when I shot it ... I was so hyped up when it went in.”
Chrisman coach Scott Schaefer, whose team improved to 8-6, was not shocked at Emmons’ big-time basket.
“I was actually not surprised,” Schaefer said. “Anyone on the floor could make that shot. I feel confident in Abby. (Shooting) is a strength with her.”
The Bears jumped out to a 10-1 lead to start as they had three assists on their first four baskets. Truman got back into it thanks to 3-pointers from Davis and guard Brodi Byrd. But a putback late in the first period by Amanda Szopinski helped Chrisman take a 15-9 lead.
Then the moment that hurt Truman came early in the second when sophomore forward Jewel Hart injured her right leg after colliding with Chrisman forward Jennifer David while trying to catch the ball in the post. She was down on the gym floor and let out a loud scream before trainers rushed to her aid. Hart was helped to the sideline and wasn’t able to come back into the game.
Her replacement, Rosie Braley helped Truman get its first lead when she sank a putback of Byrd’s missed three to make it 20-19. The Patriots took a 24-23 edge into halftime.
To make even worse for Truman, Braley got into foul trouble as she committed three in the first half and eventually fouled out in the fourth. That forced it to play with five guards for most of the second half, which made it tough on the Patriots to guard the inside game of the Bears.
“Chrisman’s strength is in the post, so you don’t want to play with five guards,” Truman coach Steve Cassity said. “Chrisman deserved to win. They played harder, they played with more poise and shot the ball well when they needed to. No excuses, they won.
“I thought we played scared tonight. I don’t know our turnover numbers yet, but we had some forced and others forced. We didn’t respond well to a big game.”
The second half is when Jacque David got going, scoring all eight of her points in the final 16 minutes. With Chrisman being able to establish her inside, it helped it stay in the game and work its way to a closer margin.
“We tried to get the guards open so they could shoot as well,” said Jacque David, who was double- and triple-teamed most of the night. “With me on the court, it brings a lot of attention to me. The guards hit some shots and that helped me get the ball more inside.”
Added Schaefer: “We tried to run a little more screens and pop our posts out a little more to create some lanes for other people.”
Truman (9-3) took a 35-27 advantage midway through the third quarter but a pair of baskets from Tierra Lopez kept the Bears with four (35-31) going into the fourth.
Chrisman kept chipping away and an Emmons three and fast break layup gave her team its first lead since the first half at 40-39. Truman guard Becca Gilpin answered with a trey to put Truman back ahead by two. A couple of minutes later, Deon Monroe, who scored a game-high 18 points, broke a 42-42 tie with a driving layup with a little more than a minute left. After both teams had an empty possession, Emmons became the hero for Chrisman.
“We needed something to get us over the hump,” Schaefer said. “We played in some competitive basketball games and lost. Hopefully this will get us going a little bit.”