After an exhaustive, all-around effort, Naperville North senior Morganne Freeman simply clutched the basketball for the final 4.1 seconds Thursday.
Glenbard North's Jennifer Deegan had just buried a 3-pointer, but with no timeouts left, Freeman cradled the ball behind the baseline with her back turned away, and the Huskies held on for a 48-47 overtime victory in Carol Stream.
The DuPage Valley Conference victory snapped a three-game losing streak for the Huskies (4-3, 1-1) after a 3-0 start.
"It definitely hurts to lose back-to-back-to-back, but finally getting this win, it feels good. It was kind of an ugly win, but we're glad that we got it," Freeman said. "(Naperville North coach Jason Dycus) has mentioned it before, but just kind of knowing the situation, I looked at the clock, saw the ball was bouncing and the clock's still running. I just thought, 'Hold it and the game will be over.' "
It was a solemn end to an action-packed finish, in which the Huskies led 34-27 entering the fourth quarter and pulled ahead 41-35 with 2:13 left in regulation, but the Panthers (2-5, 0-1) kept coming. After two missed free throws, the Panthers got the rebound and called a timeout with 9.4 seconds left. Zakiya Newsome, their freshman starting point guard, drove the lane and put up a shot that rolled over the front of the rim and in at the buzzer to force overtime at 42-42.
"It was good that we actually had an overtime experience and won it," Dycus said. "(Our girls have) worked hard and I'm really happy for them that they got the payoff tonight because we've been in a lot of close games."
Naperville North junior Kayla Sharples had a game-high 16 points and 8 rebounds. Freeman, the Huskies' lone senior starter, had a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds, leading her team's 43-20 dominance on the boards along with Sharples and sophomore Katie Cores.
"I can do it (score and rebound) in practice, but I needed to show it in the game and today is where I think I showed it and hopefully I can keep going from here on out," Freeman said.
Deegan had both overtime baskets and 10 points for the Panthers, who received 16 points from non-starters. Newsome had 6 of her 7 points in the fourth quarter. She preceded her buzzer beater with a tough shot from underneath to cut the deficit to 42-40 with 33.8 seconds left.
"I told (Newsome) I'm equally as proud of her turning down a couple of passes that we drew up as making the plays, too. She really read what was going on really well," Glenbard North coach John Chamberlain said. "It was nice to come back. Some of (our girls) were hanging their heads and disappointed but (I said), 'Look at what you did. You came from behind, extended the game and had some great looks.' We were making a lot of adjustments on both sides and if they're able to do that stuff on the fly now, that bodes well for down the road."
Sharples scored 7 consecutive points for the Huskies in the fourth quarter and overtime, giving them a 46-42 lead with 1:50 left in OT. After a driving basket by Deegan with 1:32 left, Cores' two key free throws with 17.8 seconds created a two-possession lead at 48-44.
"Not all of my shots were falling, but I kept on shooting because I wanted to help my team," Sharples said. "We all needed the want to win. I think we did that and had fire in our eyes and in our hearts."