Wolverines stun Gators with bucket at buzzer
Gateway head coach Cornelius Nesbit always says the gym at Woodland Hills is one of the toughest places his team has to play at each season.
The Wolverines, he said, give a lot of teams fits on their home court.
The Gators came into Tuesday's meeting 7-0 in Section 2-AAAA play, while Woodland Hills hoped to turn around a 1-6 record in the section.
In the final seconds of regulation, Woodland Hills came up with a big play that sank the Gators' plans to stay undefeated in section.
Senior Desiree Garland converted a layup at the buzzer to give the Wolverines a dramatic 42-41 victory. The loss snapped the Gators' 26-game section winning streak dating back to the 2010-11 season.
“You have to make winning plays down the stretch, and that's what we didn't do,” Gateway head coach Cornelius Nesbit said.
Gateway, which clinched a WPIAL playoff spot with its win at Penn Hills last week, will try to bounce back from the tough loss when it travels to Plum on Friday for a 6 p.m. game.
The Gators are hoping to repeat the outcome of the first meeting at Gateway's Furrie Sports Complex, a 56-49 triumph on Dec. 21.
“We have to turn this around and bounce back,” Nesbit said.
“We have to have a short-term memory. We have to look at the mistakes we made and then get back to playing good basketball. We have to win games on the road. That's the only way you are going to win this section.”
Fox Chapel and Plum both won on Tuesday. The Foxes are tied with Gateway at 7-1, while the Mustangs, winners of three straight in section and four in a row overall, are 6-2.
Gateway didn't help its cause from the free-throw line. The Gators were 11 of 27 from the line, including a 4-for-10 mark down the stretch.
The winning points for Woodland Hills came after Gateway senior Chelsea Richardson missed an opportunity from the foul line with seven seconds to play and the Gators ahead by one.
Senior Maria Taylor recorded a double-double for Gateway, as she scored 13 points and grabbed 13 rebounds.
Junior Katey Wilson added nine points and seven rebounds.
Garland led Woodland Hills with 13 points, while fellow senior Delrika Carey added 12 points and seven rebounds.
Gateway struggled out of the gate, missing several shots from both close and medium range. At the end of the first quarter, the game was tied at five.
The Gators good fortune from the field didn't return in the first half of the second quarter, and Woodland Hills converted three straight buckets to open a 12-5 lead.
Taylor ended an extended Gateway scoring drought, as a jumper cut the Wolverines advantage to five.
Woodland Hills didn't let up on the defensive pressure, and the Wolverines converted on offense, as back-to-back 3-pointers from Garland and Sara Blotzer-Miller made it 18-7.
Gateway then came to life.
The Gators finished the first half on an 8-0 run, as Taylor and Wilson each scored three points, and junior Jada Epps added a bucket to close to within three, 18-15, at the break.
Gateway regained the lead early in the third quarter, as a jumper from Taylor and a layup from sophomore Morgan Hainsey put the Gators ahead, 19-18.
The teams went back and forth on the scoreboard for the remainder of the quarter.
Hainsey pulled down several key rebounds, and her seven points in the frame led Gateway.
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.