Freshman Tatum Barber hit three free throws with 0.4 seconds remaining to lift Georgia Southern women's basketball to a 61-58 win at South Carolina State on Tuesday evening at the Smith-Hammond-Middleton Memorial Center in Orangeburg, S.C.
The Eagles improved to 2-3 on the season with the win, while South Carolina State fell to 1-4 on the young campaign. Georgia Southern returns to action after Thanksgiving, returning to Hanner Fieldhouse to host Thomas University on Monday, November 27, at 6:30 p.m.
Georgia Southern led by one, 58-57, with the ball and 10.1 seconds left in the contest. A turnover by the Eagles led to South Carolina State's Bryeasha Blair going to the free throw line with 5.9 seconds left. Blair made one of two free throws, and the Eagles had a shot by Rhein Beamon blocked by the Bulldogs' Jasmine Williams, but Williams was out of bounds trying to secure the rebound with 1.1 seconds left.
Beamon inbounded the ball to the left corner, where Barber put up a three-pointer at the buzzer, but was fouled. Officials put 0.4 seconds back on the clock, and the freshman from Dallas, Texas, calmly hit all three free throws to secure the victory. South Carolina State inbounded the ball to halfcourt, but the buzzer sounded to give the Eagles the win.
"What was going through my mind at first was, I knew I was open, so I was just calling for the ball as fast as I can, because it was really loud in the gym," Barber said about the sequence at the end of the game. "She fouls me, and she basically bailed me out because I didn't think it was going in."
"We put her in the game because she can shoot it," Head Coach Kip Drown said. "Pressure doesn't bother her. She's one of those kids who plays, and we have confidence in her. I called her 'ice water' afterwards. Just glad we're not playing overtime right now."
The Eagles led the contest 32-23 at halftime, and in the third quarter, Georgia Southern used a 9-1 run to open up a 45-32 lead on a Barber layup in transition, but after a time out called by the Bulldogs, South Carolina State ended the period on an 11-1 run to close the gap to four, 47-43, heading into the fourth-quarter drama.
A four-point stretch from Blair tied the game at 54-all with 2:23 left to go, and the Bulldogs took a 55-54 lead with 1:19 left on a free throw from Kemoni Jenkins. Beamon put the Eagles back in front with a layup with 58.7 seconds left for the 56-55 lead, but Blair's basket with 40 seconds left put South Carolina State back in front. Alexis Foulks got an offensive rebound and the layup that made the score 58-57 with
"You never know when things are going to turn," Coach Drown said. "You never know when you're going to get that win and it's going to take us to another level. I've been here three years and I've never seen us [celebrate] like that in the locker room. It's a great way go into Thanksgiving."