WARWICK — Lincoln junior Casie Beauchemin must have ice water in her veins. With 2.3 seconds left on the clock, Beauchemin swished two free throws to give the Lions a remarkable 34-33 victory over Warwick Vets on Tuesday afternoon.
Down one point late, the Lions (4-2, Division II-North) were scrambling to make something happen when Beauchemin collided with the Hurricanes’ Casey Bennett. Faced with a 1-and-1, the heroine took her time and found nothing but net on her first attempt to tie the score.
Seeking to break the 33-all deadlock, Beauchemin repeated the deed to put Lincoln up for just the third time in this tight contest. Out of timeouts and forced to go the length of the floor, Warwick Vets advanced the ball to midcourt before the horn sounded.
“I was a little bit nervous, but I knew that my teammates were there to back me up through everything,” said a smiling Beauchemin, who ended up registering seven points on a 4-of-5 showing from the charity stripe.
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A collective sigh of relief could be heard from Lincoln’s victorious bench as head coach Andy Hallam could only smile and shake his head in disbelief. He knew full well that the Lions had just authored the great escape, but such technicalities weren’t about to damper the enthusiasm that was running rampant.
“We actually practice those end-of-game situations and it’s a credit to Casie that she was able to hit both (free throws),” stated Hallam after Lincoln secured its fourth win in five tries. “There’s nobody else that I’d rather have at the line then her.”
Hallam added that he planned all along to have the ball in Beauchemin’s hands. She was faced with two options – if isolated, she had the green light to create for herself. If not, she would kick the ball to a Lion teammate.
“We want the ball in her hands at the end of the game,” Hallam said.
Senior forward Emily Bouthillette paced Lincoln with 11 points and seemingly countless offensive rebounds down the stretch. The willingness to mix it up down low on both ends of the court was on full display at the onset of the second half as Bouthillette repeatedly kept driving to the hole while making sure that the Hurricanes were not going to get any cheap baskets.
“Emily’s a great athlete and when she turns it on, she’s tough,” Hallam said.
Bennett earned game-high honors with 15 points – 12 coming during the second stanza. The painful loss was the fifth straight for the Hurricanes, now 2-6 in II-Central.
While the finish was pulsating, the start of this one was tough to watch. The Lions missed their first 14 field goal attempts and didn’t score during the game’s opening 8:58. The drought ended when Bouthillette nailed two freebies.
Bouthillette’s attempts were the result of Warwick Vets’ Katie Gregory picking up her second foul. Gregory was part of a towering top-of-the-key defensive alignment that also featured fellow big Emily Almonte.
With Gregory glued to the bench for the final 6:02 of the opening half, the Lions responded with a 10-2 run to grab their first lead at 10-9. The game appeared destined to head into recess tied at 12-apiece, but that was before the Hurricanes’ Victoria Flynn flipped in a prayer of a shot – a reverse that came underneath the basket that somehow nestled through the netting just as the horn sounded.
Lincoln ended up shooting 17 percent in the opening half, but that’s not what Hallam stressed to his players during his halftime speech. On the flip side, Warwick Vets was 6-of-28 (21 percent).
“We played real good defense,” he said, hence why Lincoln entered the second half right on Warwick Vets’ heels.
Lincoln took a 20-19 lead after junior Kellyn Dyer dialed up a three on a pass from Bouthillette, the sequence transpiring with 9:30 left. Warwick Vets quickly regained the lead as Bennett nailed a tough runner. She later added a 3-ball to put the home team up 28-24 before McKenzie Cavanaugh scored three straight points for Lincoln, making it a one-point affair as the clock approached two minutes.
Cavanaugh notched all seven of her points over the final five minutes.
Warwick Vets stretched the lead to 33-27 after Bennett converted a layup, but that’s when Lincoln went to work. Thanks to a great pick set by Bouthillette, Beauchemin got an open look at a three that she nailed with 35.7 seconds left. A 1-and-1 miss by Gregory opened the door a little more for the Lions with Cavanaugh scoring off the inbounds at 17.7 seconds.
Wishing to save precious time, Lincoln fouled Gregory with only 2.4 seconds evaporating. Faced with yet another opportunity to extend her team’s lead, Gregory short-armed her 1-and-1 free throw attempt that Lincoln’s Shirley Carrington rebounded.
Beauchemin was fouled with 6.3 seconds remaining, but Lincoln had not yet reached the bonus. A short time later, she found herself stepping to the line with a chance to get out of dodge with an unexpected win.
“This game revealed a lot about of character,” summed up Beauchemin.