By GREG MENGELT
Eastern junior Rebekah Feist hit two clutch shots in the final 50 seconds to give the Musketeers a 36-32 come-from-behind victory over visiting Providence on Saturday.
With 50 seconds on the clock and the Musketeers trailing 32-31, Feist took a pass from senior Brooke Rodewig. Feist knocked down her third 3-pointer of the contest to give Eastern the lead for good and a 3-1 mark on the season.
“Brooke made a great pass and I just wanted to finish it to help the team out,” Feist said.
It was a shot that her coach and teammates were surprised to see Feist take, despite being the team’s top 3-point shooter.
“She’s been one who’s been reluctant to shoot the ball,” Eastern coach Mike McBride said. “Hopefully this brings her out of her shell a little bit. It was huge that she even took the shot. We need her to make good shots for us.”
“I was glad she took it,” Rodewig said. “She’s a really good player and she needs more confidence. I’m glad she’s the one who took it.”
After a steal by Morgan Martin and two missed free throws — the Musketeers’ only two misses from the charity stripe in the contest — Providence’s Taylor Smallwood missed on a drive with 25 seconds remaining. The ball was tipped out of bounds to Eastern.
After a timeout, Rodewig found Feist again — this time streaking down the court — for a game-clinching layup with 13 seconds on the clock. Providence was unable to connect on two final shots before the final buzzer sounded.
“We work on our ‘touchdown play’ for those scenarios every Saturday,” McBride said. “We worked on it this morning in our walk-through. It’s a matter of what the defense gives us. I’m glad Rebekah made that left-handed layup.”
“It was a scramble situation and we tried to deny everybody,” Providence coach Brad Burden explained. “That’s the chance you take.”
Feist led the Musketeers with 11 points and hit three of her five 3-point attempts. Rodewig had six points and eight boards in the triumph.
Eastern appeared to be the better team early. All five Musketeers scored in the opening period, including Feist’s first 3 and four points from Rodewig, to take a 13-7 lead after one quarter.
Burden said the Pioneers’ slow start could have been anticipated from Friday’s hard-fought 42-39 loss to rival New Albany. It was Providence’s first loss of the season after a 5-0 start.
“We came out a little flat after playing with so much emotion last night,” Burden said.
Eastern freshman Taylor Drury scored on a layup — becoming the sixth Musketeer to score — to give it a 15-7 advantage after one possession in the second quarter. The Musketeers didn’t score again in the period.
Being in the double-bonus almost the entire second quarter, Providence hit four straight free throw to pull within 15-11 with 4:06 to go in the half. Freshman Bayley Wade then scored on a drive and Claire Rauck, who finished with nine points, hit a 3 with 1:15 to go in the half to give the Pioneers the lead at the break.
“We just got in foul trouble in the second quarter,” Rodewig explained. “We just need to cut down on fouling.”
“I think we just got too comfortable with the lead,” Feist added. “We need to work on that.”
Wade, who led the Pioneers with 11 points, scored seven in the third quarter, including two free throws with 21.6 second left in the opening half, to give Providence a 25-24 lead heading into the final period.
Providence got the advantage up to 29-24 with 4:20 remaining on a Cheyenne Brooks layin on an assist from Olivia Jenkins. However, the Musketeers closed on a 10-3 run to steal the victory for Eastern, which was also coming off its first loss of the season on Friday, 48-48 to Borden.
“It was good because we came back off our loss,” Feist said. “I thought we did a good job. We pulled together and beat a pretty good team.”
Despite consecutive losses, Burden believes his team has the character to bounce back, beginning Wednesday when it hosts South Central (0-2).
“They’re fine,” Burden said. “This team is young and resilient. We played a couple games against a couple good teams.”
The Musketeers are off for a week before going to Salem to take on the Washington County-rival Lions (1-2) both teams’ Mid-Southern Conference opener.
EASTERN 36, PROVIDENCE 32
Providence 7 9 9 7—32
Eastern 13 2 9 12—36
Providence (5-2): Bayley Wade 11, Claire Rauck 9, Taylor Smallwood 8, Cheyenne Brooks 2, Michaela Hoke 2.
Eastern (3-1): Rebekah Feist 11, Taylor Drury 7, Katie Ernstberger 2, Bailey England 4, Morgan Martin 2, Kaitlyn Stewart 2, Brooke Rodewig 6, Rachel Hamilton 2.
3-point field goal: Providence 4 (Wade 2, Rauck, Smallwood); Eastern 3 (Feist 3).
Free throws: Providence 10-18, Eastern 7-9.