O'Connor and Thomas Lead 'Roos To 68-64 Come-From-Behind Win Over Bison
UMKC Athletics 2-13-2012
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(Kansas City, Mo.)  -- The UMKC women's basketball team (16-10, 7-7) overcame a 13 point second half deficit to defeat North Dakota State (9-18, 6-9), 68-64, in a pivotal Summit League contest on Monday night at the Swinney Recreation Center.

Leading the Kangaroos' comeback effort were sophomore Eilise O'Connor and senior LeAndrea Thomas, as the duo combined for 32 points, including shooting 13-of-14 from the line, eight steals and six assists in the win.

The two teams traded the first 18 points of the game, with five different 'Roos scoring during the stretch and the score was tied at nine just over six minutes into the contest.

At that point, the Bison went on a 10-0 run to build a 19-9 lead midway through the half, before extending their first half lead to 12 with 8:43 left to play.

The 'Roos, though, would answer with nine straight points on two Thomas threes and one from senior Dayon Hall-Jones to pull within three at 23-20.

After a pair of Bison free throws, Thomas connected on her third three of the half and senior Brianna Eldridge added a free throw to cut the lead to one at the 3:43 mark of the first half.

NDSU, though, scored seven of the final 11 points of the half to take a 32-28 lead into the locker room.

Coming out of the break, the 'Roos cut the lead back to one when senior Brianna Eldridge buried a three at the 17:50 mark before taking their first lead of the game when O'Connor drilled a three from the left wing and Thomas hit a running jumper in the lane to give UMKC its first lead of the game at 38-37.

UMKC would maintain its one point lead until the 11:51 mark when the Bison reeled off 14 straight points to build a 56-43 lead with just over nine minutes remaining in the contest.

The 'Roos would not go quietly however, as junior Emile Blakesley hit a three on the ensuing UMKC possession to cut the lead to 10.

NDSU answered with four of the next six points to take a 60-48 lead with 5:26 left to play, but the 'Roos would begin their comeback effort when senior Mariah Scaife connected on a jumper in the paint to cut the lead to 10.

O'Connor followed with a steal and two free throws before an Ashli Hill jumper trimmed the lead to six for UMKC.

After a layup by the Bison, Hall-Jones and Thomas connected on back-to-back threes and the 'Roos found themselves down by just two at 62-60 with 2:33 left on the clock.

A pair of Bison free throws pushed the lead to four for NDSU, but O'Connor was immediately fouled and knocked down two free throws of her own to cut the lead to 64-62.

On the ensuing North Dakota State possession, the Bison would miss a layup, but NDSU's Abby Plucker collected the rebound and was fouled, sending her to the line for two free throws with 1:36 on the clock.

The senior, however, could not convert the free throws and the 'Roos would gather the rebound with a chance to tie the game.

UMKC, though, would come up empty on its possession, but Plucker dribbled the ball off her foot at the other end with 43 seconds left to play, turning the ball over to the Kangaroos.

On the ensuing inbound, O'Connor was fouled 90 feet from the basket, sending the junior back to the line, where the San Francisco native knocked down the free throws to tie the game at 64.

The Bison would then have their chance to take the lead, but the UMKC defense forced another missed layup and O'Connor was again fouled, giving her a chance to give the 'Roos back the lead with 17 seconds left on the clock.

The sophomore again came up huge for the UMKC, drilling both free throws to give UMKC a two point lead.

NDSU would have one last chance to tie the contest but Thomas notched her third steal of the game before finding O'Connor who was fouled with five seconds left to play.

O'Connor again stepped to the line and connected on her ninth and 10th consecutive free throw to seal the 68-64 win for the 'Roos.

As a team, the 'Roos forced 19 Bison turnovers, including 11 on steals, while committing just nine turnovers of their own.

Defensively, UMKC limited North Dakota State to just 33.3 percent shooting from the field.

Individually, Thomas finished with a team-high 17 points, while Thomas added 15.  Hall-Jones and Hill, meanwhile chipped in nine and eight, respectively.

On the glass, Eldridge led the Kangaroos with nine boards and Nezianya collected seven.

The Blue & Gold will be back in action again on Saturday when they head to Macomb, Ill., to take on Western Illinois at 4:30 p.m. at Western Hall.


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