ST. LOUIS - Desirae Ball's basket with two seconds remaining in overtime lifted Saint Louis to a thrilling 70-69 victory over Charlotte Wednesday night in Atlantic 10 Conference women's basketball action at Chaifetz Arena.
The victory, which came on a night SLU honored lone senior Janisha Gearlds, improves the Billikens' record to 10-18 overall and 4-9 in league play. SLU also clinched a berth into next weekend's A-10 Tournament in Philadelphia. Charlotte dips to 15-12 overall and 7-6 in the league.
Courtney Webb led four Billikens in double figures with 18 points, which included four big 3-pointers. Mallory Eggert scored 11 and corralled a team-high eight rebounds. Lorreal Jones and Gearlds (game-high six assists) registered 10 points apiece.
Epiphany Woodson led Charlotte with 32 points.
"This might have been the most fulfilling win we've had since I've been here," SLU head coach Shimmy Gray-Miller said. "Not many people gave us a chance to win this game. I've been talking about how much heart and pride this team has, and tonight they showed it in abundance. We didn't give up or give in, although we had many chances to do just that."
SLU trailed for much of overtime and came back from deficits of five with 36 seconds left and four with 20 seconds left. Trailing 69-65 with 20 second remaining, Webb drained a 3-pointer from the left corner to pull the Billikens within one. SLU fouled quickly, and Charlotte missed both free throws to give the SLU the ball with 10 second remaining.
Ball carried the ball up the floor, found a seam in the Charlotte defense, and drove to the basket and converted a layin for the game-winning score.
"Desirae Ball proved just how poised and mature she is, especially for a freshman, and we had solid efforts from a lot of players," Gray-Miller said. "We rallied to make sure Pooh Gearlds went out a winner in her final home game. It was just a great way to end our home season, and I'm very proud of this team."
A back-and-forth second half saw the game come down to the final minutes of regulation. The Billikens were down four with less than four minutes left before jumpers by Webb and Eggert tied the game at 57-57.
With 25 seconds remaining in the second half, Ball hit a pair of free throws to give SLU a 59-57 lead, but Woodson sent the game into overtime when she laid one in to make it 59-all as time expired.
The Billikens jumped out to a 7-0 lead when Ball drained a jumper, then hit a free throw. Jones and Gearlds followed with baskets to give SLU the seven-point cushion early.
A Gearlds basket six minutes into the first half gave SLU a 12-4 lead, but Charlotte scored the next five points to pull within three at 12-9.
Up 18-17 with 8:27 remaining in the half, the Billikens went on a 9-0run, keyed by a 3-pointer from Webb, to give the Billikens a 10-point lead at 27-17.
The resilient 49ers again dug their way back into the game and pulled to within two late, but a Webb lay-in in the final minute of the half gave SLU a 33-29 halftime lead.