CHICAGO - Junior guard Casey Davis sent the game into overtime on a last-second layup and hit the game-winning basket with less than four seconds left in the extra session to propel the 11th-ranked Roosevelt women's basketball team to a 92-90 comeback win over 23rd-ranked Purdue Calumet and the outright 2012-13 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference regular season championship.
The CCAC regular season title is the first league championship won by any sports program in Roosevelt Athletics history and also punched the Lakers' ticket to the NAIA Division II Women's Basketball National Championship, with the 32-team tournament taking place March 6-12 in Sioux City, Iowa.
Saturday's win gives the Lakers (24-6, 19-3 CCAC) the top seed in the upcoming CCAC tournament. Roosevelt will host an opponent to be determined in the Lakers' opening tournament contest this Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 5:30 p.m. inside the Lillian and Larry Goodman Center. If Roosevelt wins that game, the Lakers would host the CCAC semifinals on Friday, Feb. 22 and the championship game (regardless of Friday's semifinal outcome) on Saturday, Feb. 23 at the Goodman Center.
Davis scored a game-high 28 points, including 18 in the second half and overtime, while Maria Tamburrino added 20 points and nine rebounds in front of a huge, energetic crowd at The Lake House.
"Words cannot describe this feeling," said Roosevelt head coach Robyn Scherr-Wells, who led her team to a championship just three seasons into the program's existence. "I'm so proud of my team and how hard they worked this season. They deserved to be here, and they played like it today.
"I felt like they were always calm and collected no matter what was going on in the game, and I truly felt that, at every moment during the game, we would win," Scherr-Wells continued. "Even when we were down, even in the last 50 seconds of regulation when we were down three, tried to get a shot up for three but couldn't, and Maria took it to the hole and got a quick two, I was still feeling like 'You know, I still think we're going to win.'
"These players, they played like veterans that they are. Our juniors put in a lot of hard work over the last three years to get to this point, and I am so happy for them that they got to celebrate this today."
Roosevelt trailed the nationally-ranked Peregrines (20-8, 17-5 CCAC) for most of the game, falling behind by as many as nine in the first half as Purdue Calumet guard Kami Graber scored 19 of her team-leading 26 points in the game's first 20 minutes to lead a Peregrine trio of pre-intermission double-digit scorers. The visitors shot 52 percent from the field while Roosevelt didn't immediately enjoy the home rims.
Despite starting off sluggish from the field, the Lakers chipped away and stayed within striking distance. Roosevelt capped the first half on a 15-7 run, scoring the period's final five points, and had a chance to take the lead into the locker room before heading into the break down just one.
The second half was a nailbiter, as the margin never eclipsed five points. Roosevelt took a pair of one-point leads that were quickly snuffed out by Peregrine runs, but the Lakers showed resolve. With 68 seconds left in regulation, Roosevelt turned the game into a one-point affair after Kiara Towles (13 points) sank a pair of free throws, but Purdue Cal's Tierra Turner made a difficult layup with 37 seconds left to put the Peregrins up 80-77.
On the other end of the floor, Jennie Van Hook missed a pair at the charity stripe, but Tamburrino picked up the offensive board and Roosevelt signaled for a timeout with 20 second left. Tamburrino made a bucket to cut the deficit to one once again, and the junior forward quickly fouled Turner after the inbounds two seconds later to send her to the line, where Turner made one of two.
The Lakers ran the ball upcourt and set up Erin McCaslin for a game-winning attempt from downtown that was unsuccessful, but Davis picked up the loose ball and layed it in before the buzzer to send the game into five extra minutes.
In the extra session it was Davis who continued to get vital points for the Lakers. With the game tied at 88-88 with 57 seconds on the clock, Davis sank the go-ahead free throw, and Tori Clark added one of her own 20 seconds later to put Roosevelt up by a deuce.
Amanda Gaskin made a layup to knot the game with 22 seconds on the clock and eliciting a timeout for Scherr-Wells to draw up one more play.
That play proved to be simple: get Davis the ball. That is just what the Lakers did, as the backcourt star replicated her end-of-regulation heroics with a splendid move to the cup that allowed her to put in the go-ahead, and eventually decisive, bucket.
Purdue Calumet couldn't manufacture a miracle shot, and the Lakers stormed the court to celebrate a historic championship.
"Casey Davis, you can't say enough about her, and really her and Maria," Scherr-Wells said. "They have been our two go-to kids, two of the best players in the conference, and they both came up huge tonight. Casey just could not be stopped. I am really proud of her. She has done a tremendous job."
Scherr-Wells and her team climbed a ladder to cut down the nets at the Goodman Center to celebrate history on Saturday, but the Lakers will get right back to practice to focus on climbing the national ladder and making their CCAC tournament venture one to remember.
"Our goal is to definitely win the tournament," said Scherr-Wells. "You don't play a tournament without the goal of winning it, so we'll celebrate today, and we feel like that if we get to the chance to host the whole thing, we want to play well this week. It's important for national seeding. We're excited for the tournament."
Stay tuned to rooseveltlakers.com for more information on the CCAC tournament and the postseason journey of the Roosevelt Lakers, the 2012-13 CCAC Women's Basketball Regular Season Champions.