Last-Second Free Throw Lifts Inferno To NACC Semifinal

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LISLE, Illinois -- Gabby Hood's free throw with one second remaining gave Alverno College a 64-63 victory over host Benedictine University Tuesday evening in the first round of the 2017 Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference Women's Basketball Tournament.

Down two points with 47 seconds left, Hood connected on a three-point play to give the Inferno a 63-62 lead.

The Eagles were fouled and missed a pair of free throws with 27 ticks on the clock, but an offensive rebound give them new life and Venita Parsons drew another foul and connected on 1-of-2 during her trip to the line to tie the game at 63 apiece.

Hood missed a jumper from the middle of the lane but snagged the rebound and was mauled on the put back to send her to the line for the go-ahead point as she made 1-of-2.

Donna Zehner stole the inbound on the final play to secure the upset victory over third-seeded Benedictine (19-7).

It was a slow start for the sixth-seeded Inferno, who trailed 19-6 at the end of the first quarter and didn't make the team's first field goal until 8:51 of the second. After just six free throws to being the game, Mollie Mikyska connected on a jumper to make it 19-8.

The visitors trailed by 15 points midway through the second, but Mackenzie Mathies made the first 3-pointer of the game for the Inferno which sparked a 10-1 run to close out the half and cut the deficit to 33-28.

Alverno continued the run into the third quarter scoring the first eight points of the period to take a 36-33 lead. Zehner's three-point play put the Inferno in front for the first time at the 8:19 mark of the third.

The Eagles would respond and retake the lead, 49-46, heading into the fourth quarter, but the Inferno scored eight of the first nine points of the final period for a 54-50 lead, its largest of the game.

The teams traded baskets and leads over the final six minutes before Hood put the final game-winning point on the scoreboard.

Hood led Alverno with a double-double of 16 points, 12 rebounds and four assists, while Zehner added 14 points and seven rebounds and Mikyska scored 13. Mathies and Katelyn Bartlett chipped in eight points apiece.

The Inferno shot 69 percent (18-of-26) from the free-throw line while the Eagles made just 54 percent (15-of-28) of their trips.

Parsons led Benedictine with 19 points, but was limited to just a single point in the second half after a 6-of-10 shooting performance in the first.

Alverno (13-13) heads up to face second-seeded Lakeland University (18-7) Thursday in the semifinal round of the NACC Tournament. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. up in Plymouth, Wisconsin.