Elmhurst Falls to North Central in CCIW Tournament Thriller

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WHEATON, Ill. – A pair of turnovers in the final seconds proved costly as the Elmhurst women's basketball team's season came to a close in an 89-87 down-to-the-wire loss to North Central College in the first round of the CCIW Tournament.

Elmhurst (16-10), led for over 26 minutes, of the game but North Central (22-4), answered back with a barrage of three-pointers in the second half to take to bring the two teams even. Elmhurst had a chance to take the lead with the score tied and then trailing by one in the game's final 30 seconds, but a pair of turnovers helped the Cardinals escape with the win.

Elmhurst quickly built a lead a double-digit lead early, opening the game on a 16-6 run fueled by eight points from Fiona McMahon and a pair of three-pointer s from Claire Monroe.  Back-to-back three-pointers brought North Central even at 20-20. With the score even at 24-all, the Bluejays ripped off seven straight points to take a 31-24 lead. A Hannah Lipman jumper with five minutes left, allowed Elmhurst to reestablish a 10-point lead at 35-25. Kimberly Wilson banked home a three-pointer just before the buzzer to pull North Central to within six points (45-39) at the break. 

North Central started strong in the second half, using a 10-4 run to pull even at 49-all. The Cardinals took their first lead of the game on a Mayson Whipple layup with 13:56 left to play. The two teams traded buckets for the next four minutes with the score even at 62-62 with 10 minutes left. Back-to-back buckets from Mikaela Eppard put the Bluejays up by four. The Bluejays led 70-66 with 7:47 left, but the Cardinals answered back with a 13-4 run over the next 1:45 to give North Central a five-point cushion. Claire Monroe and Katie Swanson hit clutch three-pointers for the Bluejays to bring Elmhurst to within a point at 81-80 with 4:42 left. 

Trailing by three, Monroe buried her seventh trey of the game to bring Elmhurst even at 83-all with 3:48 left to play.  North Central built a three-point cushion with 1:48 left to play, but an Eppard lay-up cut the lead back down to one with 1:29 remaining. After North Central split a pair of free throws, Eppard hit another layup with 50 seconds left to even the score at 87-all. After a North Central miss, Elmhurst had the ball with 40 seconds left, but a turnover resulted in a free throw for North Central, giving the Cardinals an 88-87 lead with 25 seconds left. The Bluejays called timeout with 16 seconds left. North Central dropped into a standard man-to-man defense, instead of applying its usual pressure. The Cardinals knocked away a pass into the paint and came up with a steal. North Central's Bobbi Johns sealed the game by splitting a pair of free throws with 1.2 seconds left to play. 

Elmhurst outshot North Central 51.5 percent (34-of-66) to 38.6 percent (32-of-83), but fatigue set in during the second half as the Bluejays committed 15 turnovers, resulting in 25 points for the Cardinals in the game's final 20 minutes. 

North Central shot 31.4 percent (11-of-35) from beyond the arc, including 43.8 percent (7-of-16) in the second half. Elmhurst connected on 7-of-13 attempts (53.8 percent) from beyond the arc. 

McMahon, Eppard and Monroe combined to account for 67 of the Bluejays' 87 points. McMahon closed out her career with a double-double, registering 23 points and 13 rebounds while also blocking five shots. Eppard added 24 points, including 16 in the second half, while also recording eight assists and eight rebounds. Monroe added 20 points, pumping in six three-pointers in the loss. Katie Swanson added five points for the Bluejays while Hannah Lipman and Tiara Fitzpatrick scored four points apiece. 

Corrine Rowe and Whipple paced the Cardinals with 12 points apiece while Maryssa Cladis and Johns added 11 points apiece. Tess Godhardt and Jamie Cuny added nine points apiece for the Cardinals.