Christian Liberty downs South Beloit
Christian Liberty junior point guard Megan Ng returned home to Niles from a 10-day mission trip in France at 5 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.
"When I saw her (Monday), she said 'coach, I don't know if my legs are going to hold up.' I said 'I know, just hang in there, and I'll try to sub as much as I can for you,' " said Chargers coach Steve Rowland.
"For the entire game, I couldn't move that well and I could feel myself being slow," Ng admitted.
So what happens?
With 1:10 remaining and her team nursing a 38-35 lead over visiting South Beloit, Ng was at the free-throw line for two shots.
She showed no signs of jet lag.
Instead, Ng calmly sank both free throws and they gave the Chargers the cushion they needed to put away a 41-37 Northeastern Athletic Conference win on Monday night.
"Two big free throws at the right time," said Rowland, whose team (13-3, 2-0) was at a big loss playing without sophomore Audrey Law (illness), who is averaging a double-double in points and rebounds.
"Audrey is definitely one of our main scorers," said classmate Julia Wolke of Des Plaines. "But a lot of people were able to step up and we were able to get the win. We still let them (South Beloit) set the tone and we didn't play a good game."
Sophomore Dayna Mateo led the Chargers with 11 points while classmates Wolke and Melissa Castro each chipped in 10.
The tallest Charger, 5-foot-8 Hannah Mindak, is also a sophomore. The Schiller Park native added 7 points and some key play under the basket against the taller SoBos.
The Chargers led 21-13 at intermission but the visitors opened the third quarter with a 10-0 run.
Kristina Counts' layup off an assist from Kaya Lervik gave the SoBos (6-11, 3-1) a 23-21 lead.
Mindak answered by recovering a loose ball near the baseline and banking it home to tie the game at 23.
The two teams were then tied at 26, 28, 30 and 32 before the hosts took the lead for good on Castro's 3-pointer that made it 35-33 with 2:46 left.
"To be honest, we didn't really play our game," said Castro, a Wheeling resident. "We didn't have a good previous week of practice. But we did try out best and we were pushing the ball as hard as we could."
Mateo hit a 14-footer to make it 37-35. A free throw by Mindak and Ng's two big free throws made it 40-35.
"I'm really proud of girls," Rowland said. "For as lackluster as we were, we found a way to win. It's what you call an ugly win, but I'll take it."
Counts (11 points) and Lervik (9) led the SoBos.
"We have a resilient group," said South Beloit coach Steve Picavet about his team's second-half surge "They (CLA) got into us but they're a good team.
"For the most part, we stepped up in the second half. We missed some shots and had some silly turnovers but that's basketball. You never know what you're going to get on any night."