Heffington, Blue Streaks bounce rival Mount Union in OT

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JCU Sports Information

Nicole Heffington (ball in hand) is guarded by a Mount Union defender at the Tony DeCarlo Center on Jan. 29, 2021.

Jack O'Rourke and Staff Reporter

“We always talk about it,” said head coach Beth Andrews ‘15. “This is a big game because we are playing in it. Every time we touch the court, it is a big game.” 

As rivalry week arrived, it was clear that Andrews’ undefeated Blue Streaks would face a tough test. The veteran core of the Blue and Gold kept their cool under fire and battled to an 83-73 win over Mount Union in overtime on Jan. 29 in the Tony DeCarlo Varsity Center. 

The Blue Streaks led by a point after the first quarter, as senior Nicole Heffington and junior Hannah Bouchy led the path offensively. 

Kelsie Glass hit two deep three-pointers for the Purple Raiders to keep the Alliance natives within reach after one quarter. Kaelyn Underwood was an integral part of the defense early on. She ended the quarter with a block and forced two turnovers.

With the returning presence of junior Olivia Nagy defensively, the Purple Raiders struggled to score in the second quarter while seniors Gabrielle Gevaudan and Abby Adler provided aid to maintain the Blue Streaks’ lead. 

Junior Shelby Ford and sophomore Jaylen Hoffman also played key minutes in the second quarter and played a major factor in the extension of the Blue Streaks’ lead. A dominant 23-11 run in the second quarter resulted in a 13-point lead entering halftime for the Blue Streaks. 

“We have so many girls that could start at so many different programs,” said Andrews. “Because of this, they all pride themselves on their roles and take their jobs very seriously. Just because someone isn’t a starter doesn’t mean they aren’t a major factor in what we do. So much of our team [performance] is finding the proper gel and chemistry.” 

Mount Union’s Anika Sweeney drained two three-pointers in the middle of the third quarter, and the Purple Raiders were able to take the penultimate quarter of regulation by two points. At this point in the game, both teams played an incredibly aggressive brand of defense featuring many double teams, which forced their opponents into turnovers. 

Sharpshooter senior Dani Carlson knocked down a major three-pointer in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter, but the Purple Raiders gave JCU fits offensively. The three-ball came alive in the fourth quarter for Mount Union, as the game began to tighten up.

During the fourth quarter, Nagy made her presence felt, as she broke the school’s block record despite just beginning her junior season. Nagy also forced a few turnovers down the stretch. Glass and Sweeney both knocked down threes, which gave the Purple Raiders the lead with seconds left. 

Having trailed for the first time in the game, the Blue Streaks looked to their player who has time and time again proven to be one of the best in the country. Off an inbound pass, Heffington drained a three-pointer with five seconds left to tie the game. No. 23, Heffington, scored 23 points to set a banner night. Nagy forced a steal to end regulation and keep things knotted. 

Carlson and Heffington got the ball rolling in overtime for the Streaks, as overtime never seemed particularly tight. The Blue Streaks were masterful defensively, allowing only nine points in OT. Adler’s 8-8 performance from the free-throw line in OT was the coup de grace for the night’s festivities.

Heffington and Adler combined for 45 points on Saturday night in an 84-83 win over the Purple Raiders to complete the sweep. Andrews’ team improved to 4-0 on the year and awaits the Baldwin Wallace Yellow Jackets in the highly anticipated rematch of last year’s OAC Championship game.