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On a night Jessica Cerda made Streamwood history with her offense, it was the opposite end of the court the 5-foot-9 senior guard sealed the Sabres' 53-50 win at Batavia.
Clinging to a 51-50 lead for the final two-and-a-half minutes, Cerda missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 16 seconds to go.
Batavia came down looking for the winning basket and had the ball in the hands of leading scorer Liza Fruendt. But after solid defense from Deja Moore forced Fruendt to pick up her dribble, Cerda came over to poke the ball free.
Moore grabbed the loose ball, was fouled and made 2 free throws with 3.2 seconds left. Fruendt's 30-footer to tie at the buzzer rimmed off, keeping the No. 12 Sabres (12-2, 5-1) ahead of No. 20 Batavia (10-5, 3-2) in what is shaping up to be an entertaining Upstate Eight Conference River Division race.
That was what mattered more to the Chicago State-bound Cerda on a night she became the sixth Streamwood player to reach 1,000 career points.
"It felt good to finally get that out of the way. Everybody was just waiting for that 1,000th point," Cerda said. "I was more focused on the game and getting the win. But if feels good to be one of the few."
Entering the game with 999 points, Cerda started slowly, missing her first six shots from the field. Batavia scored its first six points on second-chance baskets, including a pair from freshman Hannah Frazier who finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Sabres coach George Rosner called a timeout just over two minutes into the game following the third of those putbacks. Streamwood never did slow Batavia on the boards losing that battle 44-27.
A 3-pointer from Fruendt gave Batavia its biggest lead of the game at 16-11 before Cerda's 3 beat the first-quarter buzzer and pushed her over 1,000 career points.
Cerda's basket also was the first of three straight big plays Streamwood made to close a quarter. Trailing the entire second quarter, the Sabres snagged a 28-27 halftime lead when Hannah McGlone stole the ball and fed Brittany Delao who flipped in a short shot in the lane just before the clock hit 0:00.
After Batavia erased a 7-point deficit in the third quarter tying the game at 37 on a Fruendt corner 3 and at 40 on Sami Villarreal's 3, the Sabres again executed in the closing minute. McGlone's lone basket of the game gave them a 44-42 lead, and Cerda's 3-point shot at the third-quarter buzzer made it 47-42.
"We have some things set that we try to do and sometimes they work and sometimes they don't," Rosner said. "We always try to make sure we get the last shot."
Batavia caught a big break midway through the fourth quarter when McGlone, who was in foul trouble all game, was whistled for her fourth foul with 5:34 remaining, then picked up a technical for arguing. That went down as her fifth foul as she left the game with 2 points and her team leading 49-44.
"She just made a bad error in judgment," Rosner said. "You have to have better composure and she knows that and it will never happen again."
However, in what turned out to be the theme of the fourth quarter, Batavia didn't capitalize, making just 1 of the 4 free throws and not scoring on the extra possession.
Fruendt did nail a 3 and score on a drive to trim the Sabres' lead to 51-50 with 2:26 remaining. Three times Batavia regained possession with a chance to go ahead and the Bulldogs turned the ball over all three times, failing to get a shot off -- the opposite of their clutch play down the stretch in their previous game coming from 7 points down in overtime to beat Oswego.
"We made some silly almost boneheaded plays," Batavia coach Kevin Jensen said. "I think nerves got us just a little. We played ourselves into a chance to win, I'll give us that, but we can't make the mistakes we did. They let us back in and we couldn't take advantage."
Moore led Streamwood with 18 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals.
"Deja was clutch again like last night (a win over Bartlett)," Cerda said. "Hannah fouling out hurt us but we kept our calm and knew we could beat this team."
Holly Foret added 9 points for the Sabres while Cerda shook off her slow start to score 17. Cerda also played 32 minutes for the second straight night.
"I'm so proud of her," Rosner said of Cerda's milestone. "She missed a few early and took a little bit of an off-balanced shot and nailed it. She's in an elite group to join. She works hard all the time and has made herself the player she is. We're all proud of her and excited for her."
Fruendt led Batavia with 20 points. Freshman Bethany Orman chipped in 6 points off the bench.
Erin Bayram joined Frazier in double figure rebounding with 10. The Sabres offset Batavia's 17-rebound advantage by shooting better: 21 for 48 (43.8 percent) to Batavia's 19 for 59 (32.2 percent), and the Bulldogs' 8 for 17 at the line.
"We really had an advantage with McGlone fouling out, that was huge for us, but we couldn't get things to fall, our putbacks, our 3s wouldn't fall. We're normally a better shooting team," said Jensen whose team now goes to the Montini tournament against Bogan on Dec. 26 before getting a crack at River leader St. Charles East on Jan. 8.
"I told them it makes our road a little harder (in the UEC River race) but it's still not impossible," Jensen said. "I believe we can be at or near the top. It's going to be a fight. If someone sweeps one or two of those matchups they might run away with it. But I can see a handful of us splitting with each other and if that's the case I don't know if anyone is going to run the table. I think we're all a little tighter at the top than years past."