Thursday, February 11, 1999

UC women beat Xavier in overtime


Slaise stars in Hometown Shootout win

BY SCOTT MacGREGOR
The Cincinnati Enquirer

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UC players hoist the Hometown Shootout trophy.
(Craig Ruttle photos)
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        It had the potential to be the best Hometown Shootout ever — and in the end, it delivered.

        The University of Cincinnati and Xavier women entered their crosstown battle Wednesday as evenly matched as they'd been in the 21-year history of the rivalry, and for the first time it took overtime to determine the winner.

        That title belonged to UC after star guard Madinah Slaise scored eight of her 25 points in the extra period, leading the Bearcats to a 65-61 defeat of the Musketeers at UC's Shoemaker Center.

        “Both teams are as good or better than I've ever seen,” said UC coach Laurie Pirtle, whose team has won four of the last five Shootouts and improved to 18-6 this season. “It could have gone either way.”

        The difference came down to big players making — and not making — big plays. Slaise took over and shot UC to the win, while Xavier (17-6) suffered with its standout senior point guard, Nikki Kremer, in street clothes with a knee injury and its leading scorer, sophomore Nicole Levandusky, shooting just 2-of-15 from the field.

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UC's Madinah Slaise collides with Xavier's Taru Tuukkanen.
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        With UC trailing by one in overtime, Slaise took the ball and the game in her hands, starting with a leaning jumper with just over a minute to play that put UC back on top for good. Later, in between sinking four free throws, Slaise nabbed a steal in the backcourt and hit an easy layup.

        “I just saw an opportunity to take the ball. It was just kind of instinctive,” said Slaise, who leads UC in scoring at 19.2 points per game. “I didn't think it was my time to do anything. I just took what they gave me.”

        Xavier also ended up getting two big three-pointers from Levandusky, the first sending the game to overtime, but Kremer's absence was huge.

        Kremer, a Mercy High grad who is second in the nation with 8.8 assists per game, hyperextended a knee last weekend and on Wednesday was told by the Xavier medical staff she had to sit out the Shootout. The doctors — and coach Melanie Balcomb — believed the Muskies would be better off saving her for the Atlantic 10 Conference race rather than risk injury.

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UC's Candice Roberson drives to the basket.
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        “We missed Kremer's leadership,” Balcomb said. “It's not an excuse. It's tough when you have a kid who plays 40 minutes a game for you for three years and then she's not there. It affected our start. The kids weren't ready.”

        But Balcomb said she didn't regret the decision.

        “Our league is much more important,” she said.

        Xavier still rallied from an 11-point first-half deficit to force overtime, but struggled offensively without Kremer to move the ball. Little-used backup Jennifer Parr filled in admirably — she played 43 minutes, compared to just 36 all season — but her one critical error led to the steal that Slaise converted into UC points with just seconds remaining in OT.

        And Cincinnati's hustle to loose balls and rebounding advantage (45-35) frustrated Xavier all night.

        Bearcats forward Amber Stocks grabbed a career-high 16 boards.

HOMETOWN SHOOTOUT NOTEBOOK

XAVIER Fg-A 3pt-A Ft-A Reb Pf TP A T B S Min
Phillips 4-5 0-0 1-1 1 5 9 2 0 0 0 20:08
Levandusky 2-15 2-7 2-2 5 3 8 2 2 0 4 39:34
Tuukkanen 7-12 0-0 2-2 10 3 16 1 2 3 2 40:03
Hotz 6-9 0-0 1-2 5 2 13 0 3 0 1 39:56
Parr 3-11 3-8 0-1 5 1 9 6 9 0 2 43:28
Griggs 1-2 0-0 0-0 4 1 2 1 1 0 0 24:37
Riley 0-2 0-0 2-2 0 0 2 0 2 0 1 8:56
Senser 1-3 0-0 0-0 1 2 2 0 0 0 0 6:46
Kulik 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1:32
Team 4
Totals 24-59 5-15 8-10 35 17 61 12 19 3 10 225
CINCINNATI fg-A 3pt-A ft-A Reb Pf TP A T B S Min
Stocks 2-6 1-4 0-2 16 2 5 2 2 0 2 40:14
Kirk 3-10 0-3 1-1 5 0 7 0 2 1 1 31:46
Scott 5-13 0-0 3-5 7 3 13 1 3 0 4 38:08
Slaise 8-23 1-6 8-8 4 3 25 2 6 0 4 41:53
Roberson 3-6 1-3 2-2 4 0 9 1 2 0 3 34:14
Perry 1-2 0-0 1-2 1 1 3 2 2 0 0 13:58
Merriweather 1-3 0-0 0-0 3 1 2 0 1 0 0 13:09
Groeber 0-1 0-0 1-2 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 11:38
Team 4
Totals 23-64 3-16 16-22 45 10 65 8 18 1 15 225


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