LAS VEGAS, Nev. - In its second game at the 2011 Duel in the Desert tournament, Ohio Women's Basketball stunned Xavier in double overtime, winning 80-75. The Bobcats were led by a tremendous effort from forward Porsha Harris, who scored a career-high 29 points and pulled down 14 rebounds. The junior forward has now scored 502 points in her collegiate career, 102 of which have come at Ohio.
In a game where there were 13 ties and 25 lead changes, the Bobcats came out on top thanks to strong rebounding (49 total rebounds), clutch free-throw shooting (26-of-35) and composed ball-handling (only 17 turnovers in 50 minutes).
Sunday's game was the first double-overtime contest for the Bobcats since a March 14, 2008 game in the Mid-American Conference Tournament during which the Green and White defeated Bowling Green, 68-66. It was also the first time that Ohio has scored 80 points in a game since an 89-81 home overtime loss to Clemson that came two years ago to the day, on December 19, 2009.
Tenishia Benson's poise was critical for the Bobcats during the late stretches of the game, as she finished 14-of-14 from the free-throw line, a mark which ranks second all-time in program history in terms of single-game free-throws made. She finished with 20 points and nine rebounds.
Only one season removed from a 29-3 campaign that saw it narrowly miss a berth into the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16, Xavier (3-7) had dropped a close contest to Syracuse on Sunday and will conclude its participation in the tournament Tuesday against Oklahoma. The Musketeers were led in scoring by 18 points from Tyeasha Moss. Jessica Pachko collected a team-high 13 rebounds.
Ohio (6-6) leapt off to a very strong start, connecting on two early field goals and three free throws to take a 7-6 lead at the first media timeout. Harris (Chicago, Ill.) was ready right from the start, scoring five of Ohio's first seven points. The `Cats kept up their furious pressure on defense, forcing Xavier into five early turnovers en route to grabbing a seven-point lead (15-8) in the early going.
Xavier went on an 11-6 run over the next few minutes to pull within two at 21-19. The teams played a frenzied final 4:06 with Ohio hold the upper hand at the break, 25-24. Harris had the most points (9) on either team through the first 20 minutes while Shavon Robinson also had a very strong half, scoring eight on 3-of-5 shooting.
The first 4:15 of the second half was the definition of a back-and-forth affair, with the lead changing hands nine times in this span. This kept up through the better part of the half, with Ohio grabbing a 41-40 advantage with 11:13 to play. In just the first nine minutes of the second half, Harris had added eight points to her total.
Trailing 51-46, Ohio ripped off a 6-0 run to take a one-point lead with 4:06 remaining in regulation. The score see-sawed back and forth for the remainder of the second half, with Xavier's Lynette Holmes hitting a jumper to tie the game at 57 apiece with less than a minute to play. Ashley Fowler (Cincinnati, Ohio) had a chance to win it with a three-pointer just a few seconds before the buzzer, but the shot fell short. The junior guard played a very solid game, scoring four points and contributing a 4:1 assist-to-turnover ratio through 44 minutes of play.
Xavier held a two-point lead with only 1:27 remaining before back-to-back buckets by Robinson (Canton, Ohio) and Harris gave the `Cats a two-point advantage at 63-61. Four Musketeer foul shots were matched with two Benson free throws over the final 42 seconds, with the teams still being deadlocked after 45 minutes of play.
The second overtime period was all Ohio. The Bobcats rattled off a 10-0 run, holding Xavier without a point for 2:57. The Musketeers were able to trim Ohio's ten-point lead down to three with 14 seconds remaining, but Benson stepped up to the line and sank her 13th and 14th free throws of the day to seal the victory.
The Bobcats will next be in action on Tuesday when they close out their portion of the Duel in the Desert tournament against Syracuse. Tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m. EST from the Cox Pavilion.