Generals move on to ODAC semifinals after thrilling comeback win over Lynchburg

Erin Addison

SALEM, Va. – Eight points over the final 1:52 and defensive stops on four of the last five Lynchburg possessions helped the third-seeded Washington and Lee women's basketball team to a 79-77 comeback win over the sixth-seeded Hornets in the quarterfinals of the ODAC Tournament on Friday night.

Trailing, 74-73, with 50 seconds to play, Lynchburg (13-13) senior forward Molly Shephard banked in a layup, but the Generals (18-8) put the ball in the hands of junior forward Andy Smithey (Charlotte, N.C./Saint Mary's School), who answered for the Generals with a layup of her own with 30 seconds left. 

The Generals then got a stop on the defensive end, courtesy of a steal from first-year guard Erin Addison (Waxhaw, N.C./Weddington), followed by a 1-for-2 effort at the foul line from junior guard Taylor Casey (Brentwood, Tenn./Franklin Road Academy) extended the W&L lead to two points with 18 seconds to play. W&L's defense got another stop on the other end of the floor, with Smithey grabbing a rebound off a missed layup and hitting one free throw after being fouled.

Now up, 77-74, with just nine seconds on the clock, Smithey drew a foul near midcourt, an offensive foul on Shephard, which put Casey back on the foul line for another two points to seal the win.

With the game tied, 59-59, at the start of the fourth quarter, Casey banked in a layup on the first possession to put the Generals ahead. But the Hornets responded with six straight points over the next 1:40 to regain a five-point lead. A 12-5 run from W&L then gave the Generals the slight 73-72 edge with just 1:52 to play.

Trailing by a score of 42-35 entering the third quarter, the Hornets began the frame with eight straight points to take a one-point lead. The two teams exchanged two points, before a three pointer by Lynchburg sophomore guard Carolyn Noe went down to give the Hornets a four-point lead. 

W&L then scored eight of the next 13 points to cut the Hornets' lead down to one, before a pair of free throws from first-year guard Kate Groninger (Pittsburgh, Pa./Upper St. Clair) put the Generals back up by a point. Lynchburg outscored the Generals, 3-2, over the final 1:15 to tie the game entering the final quarter of play.

The Generals came out and scored six of the first eight points over the first 2:11 of the game, before Lynchburg edged W&L, 7-5, over the next 2:23 to pull back within two points. The last 4:26 favored the Generals, however, 8-7, as they took a 19-16 lead into the second quarter.

At the start of the second, Addison led the Generals to a 10-6 run to open the frame to put the Generals up, 29-22, with 6:19 remaining in the half. The Hornets responded with an 11-5 run, however, to get back to within one point, 34-33, at the 1:22 mark.

Over that final stretch of the first half, the Generals scored eight of the final 10 points of the half to go into the intermission with a 42-35 lead. Addison, again, led the charge with four of the eight points, in addition to two each from sophomore guard Erin Hughes (Raleigh, N.C./Ravenscroft School) and Casey.

Addison finished the game with a season-high 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the field, while she added two rebounds, four assists and three steals. First-year guard Megan Horn (Basking Ridge, N.J./The Pingry School) scored 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting overall, 3-for-5 from long range, and recorded five rebounds, two assists, two blocks and two steals.

Smithey and Hughes tallied 13 points apiece, with Smithey logging five rebounds and two assists. Hughes notched four rebounds and six steals, including five thefts in the first half. With her six steals, Hughes now has 72 this season, which breaks the program's single-season record of 71, previously held by Michelle Hicks '98. 

The Hornets were led by a 15-point, 13-rebound performance by first-year center Erin Green, who finished the game 6-of-10 shooting and blocked six shots. Shephard led the team in scoring with 19 points, to go along with six rebounds. Noe finished with 17 points and first-year guard Lizzie Davis scored 15. 

The Generals shot 40.9 percent (27-of-66) from the floor in the game, while Lynchburg connected on 47.6 percent (30-of-63) of its shots. The Hornets held a 45-29 rebounding advantage in the game, plus a 44-32 edge in points in the paint and 15-6 on second-chance points. W&L held an advantage over the Hornets in points off turnovers (23-15), forcing 22 Hornet turnovers to just 11 themselves.

The 18 wins for W&L this season marks the most in a single season since the 2010-11 team won 19, while it is also the first time that W&L defeated Lynchburg since February 15, 2014, snapping a nine-game skid against the Hornets.

The Generals advance to the ODAC Semifinals and will face seventh-seeded Roanoke at 8:00 pm on Saturday at the Salem Civic Center. The Generals and Maroons met twice during the regular season, as the teams split the two contests.