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The Journal Gazette

Friday, January 06, 2017 8:22 pm

Northrop girls squeeze past Snider

Greg Jones | The Journal Gazette

It wasn’t exactly a free-throw shooting clinic, but Northrop got the one it needed.

Tied at 57 with 18.7 seconds remaining, the Bruins’ Arielle Thatcher hit 1 of 2 free throws to ultimately give Northrop a 58-57 win against visiting Snider on Friday.

From there, the Bruins defense forced Snider into a pair of critical turnovers to preserve the win.

"That was great team defense," first-year Northrop coach Rashida Ray said. "I just told them get one stop, get one stop, and they did it. It was just great defense."

It wasn’t always pretty for Northrop in the final minutes, making only 1 of 6 free throws down the stretch, but it was good enough.

"There was a lot of adrenaline," Thatcher said of the final seconds. "I was really nervous, but I figured I had to push through to make the free throw to win the game.

"There was a lot of patience. We had to slow the game down (late) and not speed it up to their level."

Northrop (9-5, 4-2 SAC) has won seven of eight, with the only defeat being a 55-54 loss to Concordia in the SAC tournament. The Bruins have surprised some this season, including wins against Bishop Dwenger and South Side, but probably won’t sneak up on any teams the rest of the way.

"We will probably beat a lot of teams people don't think we will, but we will be ready for everybody that comes along," Thatcher said.

Northrop was 8-15 last year and 1-19 two years ago, but Ray has changed the team’s fortunes and culture this season.

"At the beginning of the season, we found out not to ever give up," Ray said. "Now we are finally out we are able to win; that's a close game, and that's a big game to win."

Thatcher’s 16 points led the Bruins, while Breanna Douglas added 13.

Thatcher twisted her ankle early in the game, but returned to action quickly and played a pivotal part in the outcome.

"I was ready to go," Thatcher said. "I wanted to get it taped ... my team needed me."

Snider (9-4, 4-2) had won six of its previous seven games, with the loss coming in the SAC tournament semifinals 59-52 to top-seeded and eventual champion Homestead. Kyla Covington led the Panthers with 24 points.

"It definitely increases our confidence," Ray said of beating Snider for the first time since 2006. "It is putting us in a good position toward the top of the SAC, which no one thought we would be. That's speaks big for these girls."

The final quarter was back and forth the entire time, with the Bruins holding a 51-48 lead before the score was tied at 51, 53, 55 and 57 before Thatcher’s free throw.

Northrop got off to a strong start and led 6-2. Snider eventually found its way to go up 15-13 after the first quarter.

Snider narrowly led Northrop 33-32 at halftime and 43-40 after three.