LAREDO, Texas - Senior M.J. Vickers canned a three-point basket as regulation expired to give McMurry University a 59-56 victory at Texas A&M-International University in the first-ever meeting between the schools. The win lifted the War Hawks to 6-9 overall.
Vickers' big bucket saved the day for McM, which frittered away a 13-point lead in the final 14 minutes of the game.
Vickers finished the evening with seven points, three rebounds and three steals.
The Dustdevils grabbed an early four-point advantage, 6-2, less than four minutes into the game. McMurry took its first lead of the evening at the 13:08 mark on a short jumper by Rikeita Thomas, 9-8.
Thomas and Claire Bruffey each tallied seven points in the opening segment.
It was a Bruffey three-point basket that, with 10:05 left until halftime, put the War Hawks on top 16-14. McM would never trail again in the game…although things would get a bit uncomfortable down the stretch.
Jaryn Koenig's offense rebound and put-back basket gave McMurry its largest lead of the first half, five points, 27-22. The War Hawks would carry a 29-24 cushion into the halftime locker room, thanks largely to some stellar defense.
Junior Keshia Collins lead the defensive assault with five steals – out of nine by the team – in the opening 20 minutes.
McMurry opened the second half by keeping its foot on the accelerator. Thomas' jumper at 13:25 gave the War Hawks their largest lead of the game, a 13-point bulge (44-31).
But the Dustdevils sucked it up and refused to go away. Malika Jackson's layup at 6:54 cut it to three points, 44-41.
McMurry's scoring drought – a lapse of 7:03 minutes without a point – was finally broken on a rebound and basket by Vickers with 6:22 left to play, 46-41.
TAMIU knotted things at 56-56 on a three-point play by Amanda Mangan (18 points). With her team down by three, Mangan stole the ball from Vickers as she tried to break the press. Mangan took it to the hole and was fouled by Vickers as the ball went in. The subsequent made free throw tied the game with 26 tics left on the clock.
But Vickers would redeem herself just a few moments later.
McM head coach Dr. Veronica Snow called a timeout with eight seconds left to set up a final shot. The inbound pass came to Vickers, who dribbled toward the left side of the arc. When the defender slide away, Vickers pulled up from five feet behind the line and swished the winning trey as the clock rolled over to 00:00.
The officials did an obligatory review of the monitor and quickly confirmed Vickers' basket that gave her team its third win versus a Heartland Conference foe.
Thomas finished the game with a team-leading 13 points, hitting 6-of-10 from the field. She also had four rebounds and two steals.
Collins and Bruffey each contributed 10 points. Bruffey was 2-for-3 from long range.
Collins, on the other hand, had five rebounds and made six of the team's 14 steals. She also had three assists.
Senior Jamie Wilson had seven rebounds to lead McMurry's team, while also tallying five points. Junior transfer Ashton Jones came off the bench to register three blocked shots
McMurry will have little time to enjoy the win, however. The War Hawks travel to San Antonio on Saturday (2 p.m.) to square off versus HC leader St. Mary's University.
McMurry vs Texas A&M Intl. (01/17/13 at Laredo, Texas - TAMIU KCB).
Information for this story provided by McMurry Sports Information.