Trailing by 17 points midway through the second half Saturday, the St. Ambrose women’s basketball team proved again what coach Krista Van Hauen has come to expect.
There’s no quit in the Queen Bees.
After forcing overtime on a buzzer-beating lay-in by Ashley Dexter, 15th-ranked St. Ambrose went on to win its 16th straight game 74-64 against Ashford at Lee Lohman Arena.
“This team never stops believing," Van Hauen said. “No matter what, they keep battling. We’ve seen it time and time again. You just wait for the spark."
The Queen Bees trailed 51-34 midway through the second half before the second of three 3-point baskets by Sydney Greiner ignited a furious comeback.
Ashford mustered just one field goal over the next 8 minutes, allowing St. Ambrose to pull within 54-51 when Katie Jensen hit a pair of free throws with 2:22 left in regulation.
The Queen Bees eventually tied the game at the line as well when Devan Griffin evened the score at 56-56 with :37 to go in regulation.
A basket by Madison Wagner moved the Saints ahead 58-56 with :04 left before St. Ambrose put the ball in Dexter’s hands and the senior drove the length of the court, tying the game as time expired.
“I saw a seam and I was able to take it the rim," Dexter said. “The lay-up was there and it kept us going. It seems like we’ve been able to finish strong in the second half of all of our games lately and we were able to do it again."
A basket by Jensen, who led St. Ambrose with 21 points and 10 rebounds, opened overtime and gave the Queen Bees (22-5) their first lead since the 7-minute mark in the first half.
Griffin, who also had a double-double with 12 points and 10 boards, put the Bees ahead for good at 62-60 with 3:09 left in overtime before Dexter started a string of free throws which sealed the win. St. Ambrose knocked down 13-of-16 attempts over the final 2:12 of overtime, including four as part of a 17-point game by Dexter.
“Ashford always brings their best when we play them," Dexter said. “They come at us with a lot of defensive pressure and get after it. It’s something we don’t see a lot of, but we handled it."
Led by a 16 points from Jessica Mlachnik, the Saints (9-20) only forced 12 turnovers but have managed to hold the Queen Bees to 48 and 58 points in regulation this year, the only times St. Ambrose has finished with fewer than 68 points in a game.
“They’ve played extremely tough defense against us this year and they’ve slowed the game down to limit our possessions," Van Hauen said. “They forced us to win a different way and that is something we can learn from."