Jacksonville trailed 29-28 when a turnover gave the Eagles the ball with 10 seconds on the clock. Following a timeout, junior guard Lacey Buchanon drove the ball toward the basket down the right side of the lane. Buchanon’s shot was off the mark but Ervin was in perfect position.
As the play developed, Ervin said she was thinking, “If I can just stay down here and box out maybe I can get a rebound if she misses.”
When Buchanon missed Ervin was alone on the opposite side.
“They were basically trying to double Lacey and Sharon (Osterbind), our leading scorers. I guess they forgot about me,” Ervin said.
“Kenyatta keeps hustling and Lacey draws the defense to her. The result was we get a layup at the very end to win it,” first-year Jacksonville coach Ryan Chambless said.
Saks (14-6) trailed the low-scoring contest for three quarters but had cut Jacksonville’s lead to 22-21 when the third quarter closed. With 6:46 to go, Saks point guard Addesha Collins banked home a 3-point basket and the Wildcats had their first lead. A minute later, Taylor West scored from the paint and extended Saks’ lead to 26-22.
Osterbind, a sophomore, tallied the next six points of the game on an offensive rebound put-back and four free throws. Only 1-for-4 at the line in the first half, Osterbind was 4-for-4 in the fourth quarter. With 1:41 left she hit two and the Eagles led 28-26.
“I think I tried to concentrate more,” Osterbind said of her last trips to the line. “I guess I wasn’t as nervous when I concentrated more.”
With 45 seconds left, Collins canned her second trey of the game to put the Wildcats ahead 29-28. A shot by Buchanon was blocked and a held ball gave Saks possession with 13 seconds remaining. Jacksonville’s fifth team foul of the half forced the Wildcats to inbound the ball again with 10.8 seconds on the clock and the final change of possession followed.
After Ervin scored the winner, Saks got a timeout and 1.3 seconds went back on the clock. The Wildcats couldn’t get a short away before the buzzer.
Saks coach Michelle Morgan said her plan entering the game was to try to hold either Buchanon or Osterbind to single-digit points. Morgan credited the defensive work of junior guard Destinee Briskey with holding Buchanon, who was averaging 19.9 points entering the tournament, scoreless.
“I wasn’t expecting us to have an off shooting night like we did,” Morgan said.
While Buchanon didn’t score, her ability to get the Eagles into a half court set against Saks’ defensive pressure was a critical factor in the outcome.
“She plays good defense, she handles the ball and she’s the quarterback,” Chambless said.
Morgan said her team’s energy level goes up when its pressure defense creates turnovers.
“We’re better at a fast pace, getting steals and then layup,” Morgan said.
Osterbind led all scorers with 15 points and had 20 rebounds and six blocks. Ervin scored nine points. Eighth-grader Kira Kingston hit treys on back-to-back possessions early in the first quarter to put Jacksonville ahead 10-3.
Collins finished with 11 points, six rebounds and four steals. Briskey scored 10 points and added six boards and five steals. West had 14 rebounds and six points. Kristen Goodman had six boards and two points.