Basketball teams advance to Heartland Conference Tournaments

Staff Writer

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The St. Edward’s University’s basketball teams have advanced to the Heartland Conference Tournament as the regular season came to a close with a buzzer-beating loss for the women and an overtime win for the men.

On Saturday, the men’s basketball team defeated Newman University, 88-85, Saturday afternoon at the Recreation and Convocation Center (RCC).

 St. Edward’s took an early 17-8 lead over Newman, as sophomore guard, John Gramlich and junior forward, Trey Lindsey scored a combined total of 15 points.

However, Newman battled back and managed to take a 34-33 lead with under two minutes left in the first half before the Hilltoppers bounced back and entered halftime ahead, 37-36. 

The second half was a well-fought battle for both teams, as the Jets stole an early lead by capitalizing on important jumpshots. 

However, the Jets continued to score, extending their lead to 78-67 with just over five minutes left.

The Hilltoppers would fight back. A 9-0 run was ignited by junior guard Frankie Mgbolu, who made two jump shots. Then, Gramlich added on to the rally with two 3-pointers to bring the team within two, with 1:11 left.

With only eight seconds remaining, Newman fouled junior forward, Quinton Lilley, putting him at the free throw line. Lilley hit both free throws, tying the game at 80 and forcing overtime.

“I worked on my free throw shooting so much over the summertime, trying to improve for this upcoming season,” Lilley said. “The main thing I wanted to do was go back to the basics, remember my fundamentals that I worked on and make the free-throws because I knew the team needed it.” 

In overtime, Mgbolu and Lilley scored but Newman had a pair of layups of their own which kept the score tied at 84. Then, Lindsey and Mgbolu again each drove in a basket to give the Hilltoppers an 88-84 edge.

The Jets had a pair of free throws with 15 seconds left, but only managed to make one. Newman then shot a three at the buzzer, but missed, giving St. Edward’s the victory. 

“Very proud of my team. They are resilient and never quit,” Head Coach Andre Cook tweeted.

Gramlich finished the game, registering a season-high of 26 points.

“We want to say thank you to all the fans who came out and supported us throughout the season and especially tonight,” Lilley said.

The St. Edward’s women’s team got off to a strong start against Newman getting out to a 20 point lead in the first half. However, Newman managed to battle back, cutting the lead to eight at the break.

The second half of action looked to be anyone’s game. The Jets were able to cut the lead and pulled ahead with only 5:13 left in the game.

Evening the score five more times throughout the game, Hilltoppers would rally to eventually take a one-point lead with nine seconds left after a successful free throw shot from Fatheree. 

Newman would get the opportunity to score, as the last seconds on the clock winded down. With half a second left, the Jets found their basket, just beating the buzzer to secure a one-point win.

The crowd was stunned as the referees reviewed the play on camera monitors, and confirmed the Hilltopper loss.

“I’m just completely overwhelmed. I don’t know how she got it off of me with 0.5 of a second, but you know, that’s the game. We’re going to the tournament … We’re still alive and that’s all that matters,” senior forward Amy Durbidge said to St. Edward’s Athletics.

Last season, the Hilltoppers finished 4th in the Heartland Conference, advanced to the conference tournament, where they knocked off the No. 1 seed and went on and won the tournament. They would advance to the NCAA national tournament, where they lost in the first round.