SPRINGFIELD, Mass.--Freshman Meghan Fornaro came up huge in the overtime sessions and her 3-pointer with 1:50 left in triple overtime capped one of the greatest comebacks in program history as the Bears, who trailed by as many as 17 in the second half, stunned Springfield 55-54 in triple overtime in a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) game.
This was the first ever triple overtime game in Coast Guard history as the Bears got a much needed win to improve to 8-12, 6-9 as they snapped their three-game slide. The loss drops the Pride to 3-18, 1-14. The Bears are now tied for fifth place in the NEWMAC.
"What a great game. Springfield came out tonight and had a great start," said Coast Guard head coach Alex Ivansheck. "We could have folded, but we didn't and the team played with so much heart and determination making huge plays when we needed them most."
The wild come-from-behind win had a crazy ending as Springfield had a chance to win the game, but missed a pair of free throws with just one tenth of a second on the clock.
Jaimie Bickelhaupt netted a career-best 24 points to go along with 16 rebounds in the loss for Springfield.
Bickelhaupt connected on 10-of-19 from the field as he was the lone player for the Pride in double figures. Tamara Tribble added nine points and five caroms, while Emily Taylor provided some strong play off the bench with eight points, six boards, and five steals.
Three players netted double figures for the visiting Bears, with Alexi Howland and Kaitlin Ward each tallying 12 points. The 12 points for Howland was a season-high. Fornaro proved to be the hero in the overtime sessions and registered 10 points for the game, while Karli Collins was tremendous on the glass, hauling in a game-high 18 boards. Leigha Steinbeck added a career-high seven points in the win.
Springfield opened up a 16-4 advantage through the first 9:14 of the first half following a jumper in the paint by Taylor. Coast Guard would answer with a 9-3 push, getting within six at 19-13 with just under two minutes left. The Pride closed out the half with layups by Tribble and Briana Freymuth to own a 23-13 halftime lead.
Springfield controlled the paint in the opening 20 minutes of play, outscoring the visitors 18-0, while limiting them to just 14.3% (4-28) from the field.
After a steal and lay in by Andrea Moschetta at the 14:28 mark of the second half, the Pride's lead had ballooned to 17 and the hosts seemed destined to cruise to victory.
However, a 24-7 run over the next 12:33 allowed Coast Guard to even things at 39-all after Collins scored on a tough lefty finish inside. Bickelhaupt put the Pride back on top the next time down the floor on another layup with 1:25 to go, only to have Ward convert inside with just over a minute remaining as the teams went into the first overtime.
Howland scored to start the first overtime to give the visitors their first lead of the evening. A bucket from Bickelhaupt and two free throws from Tribble have Springfield a two-point cushion, but a wild scoop shot in the lane by Howland found the bottom of the net with nine ticks left to force a second OT.
A three-point play by Bickelhaupt with 1:03 left gave Springfield a four-point lead, but Fornaro leaked out and scored in transition to make it a one-possession game. She then stole the in-bounds pass and scored quickly to stun the Pride as the game was tied again just a 16 seconds span.
Taylor drilled a pull up jumper to start the third OT, but that would be the last time the Pride would score. Fornaro buried a three from the right wing to put Coast Guard on top for good, but their was plenty of fireworks down the stretch. Fornaro missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 16 seconds left before Springfield was fouled with 0.1 seconds left. However, both free throws were missed as the visitors held on for the thrilling win.
Coast Guard hosts Mount Holyoke in a key NEWMAC game on Saturday at 1 p.m.