Reeann McCarty joined an elite group of St. Ambrose women’s basketball players Wednesday, but she felt even better about helping lead the Queen Bees to another win.
"Right now, that’s what means the most, winning games and giving ourselves a chance to earn a spot in the conference tournament," McCarty said shortly after reaching a career milestone late in the fourth quarter of an 85-76 St. Ambrose win over Judson at Lee Lohman Arena.
The senior became the 32nd player in the program’s 42-year history to score 1,000 points, reaching that plateau when she scored the 14th of her 18 points by hitting the first of two free throws with 46 seconds remaining in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference game.
McCarty led a balanced attack in a game that saw six St. Ambrose players score at least eight points in to help the Queen Bees win for the third time in four conference games in January.
"That’s what I appreciate the most, that I’ve been a part of good teams with good teammates, and when we’ve been at our best, it’s been a team thing," McCarty said.
That was the case Wednesday, although McCarty scored the Bees’ first six points to help St. Ambrose to a 12-2 lead that Judson could never catch.
She also contributed 10 rebounds, was second on the team with three assists and led the Bees with two steals, including one that presented her with a chance to reach the milestone.
Judson was within 80-74 when McCarty took the ball away from the Eagles’ Adrienne Truitt in the free throw circle and was fouled by Truitt with :46 remaining.
McCarty, who had not scored since missing the second of two free throws with 5:07 remaining, hit nothing but net and felt nothing but relief on her first chance to give St. Ambrose a two-possession lead.
The Bees celebrated with a timeout and a public acknowledgement of the accomplishment before McCarty stepped to the line and knocked down the second attempt.
"There have been so many good players come through here over the years, and it’s a good honor to be mentioned with them, but as much as anything it’s a relief to have it over with and to just be able to go out and play now," said McCarty, who was presented the game ball following the game.
McCarty is fifth player in coach Krista Van Hauen’s eight seasons to reach the milestone, and the Bees’ coach said the Manchester, Iowa, native is reflective of the talent the St. Ambrose program has traditionally attracted.
"Reeann’s had a great career here, and she belongs in the group of 32 players who have scored 1,000 points here," Van Hauen said.
"As a coach, it’s awesome to have a player reach a milestone like that. It’s even better when you get to celebrate a win to go with it. She played great tonight, and we played good basketball as a team."
To McCarty, that mattered most.
"We played unselfish basketball, shared the ball and, when they made a run at us, we kept battling," McCarty said.
St. Ambrose (8-13, 6-5 CCAC) never trailed, opening a 37-30 lead by halftime after taking control early by holding Judson to a 4-of-19 start from the field.
Hailey Cook scored six of her 14 points to fuel a 12-3 run during the first four minutes of the third quarter, propelling the Queen Bees to a 49-33 lead that the Eagles (12-9, 6-5) trimmed to 68-63 on two of Daija Pruitt’s team-high 16 points with 5:52 to play.
A three-point play by Cook, a free throw by McCarty and a putback by Colleen Grady allowed St. Ambrose to regain a 74-63 lead with 3:08 remaining.
"We finished in the fourth quarter, and that was something we didn’t always do early in the season," Van Hauen said. "It’s a sign that we’re making progress, one step at a time. Overall, it was a pretty good night."