Women's Basketball Wins Opener, 92-87, In Overtime Over Columbia
Nov. 16, 2001
Chicago, Ill. - The UIC women's basketball team notched its first season-opening victory since 1995 on Friday night as they outlasted visiting Columbia, 92-87, in overtime at the Flames Athletic Center.
The Flames overcame a 16-point first-half deficit in the contest and did not own their first lead in the game until a LeKesha Williams runner in the lane gave UIC a 78-76 advantage with 1:03 remaining.
Columbia would eventually force the game into overtime on a three-pointer by Nicole Lesko with six seconds left, but the Flames outscored the Lions 13-8 in the extra period to earn the win.
"We were confident as a team that we could come back," Williams said. "We were able to penetrate more in the second half, and we were able to back them down a little bit."
Williams keyed UIC's comeback, scoring 19 of her career-high 24 points in the second half and overtime while also dishing all of her career-best six assists after intermission. The junior guard also tied her personal high with five steals in the game.
"These are the kind of numbers (Head Coach Tim Eatman) is looking for me to put up if we are going to be an NCAA bound team," Williams said after the game.
While Williams paced UIC's comeback in the second half, it was senior guard Josie Cole who kept the Flames alive early, pouring in 13 of her career-best 21 points and handing out four of her personal-high seven assists in the opening stanza.
The Flames also got support from senior Stesha Rhodes, who tabbed her first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds and Zsuzsa Tarnai, who netted 13 points in her UIC debut. Junior Kristin Cheairs also added 10 points for the Flames while point guard Consuela Hall handed out a career-high eight assists.
All in all, the Flames had five players score in double figures. UIC also totaled 28 assists on their 38 field goals in the game.
"We talked in the preseason about being more balanced as a team offensively," Head Coach Tim Eatman said. "On any given night someone different could lead us out there and tonight it was Josie and LeKesha."
Local product Megan Bramlette and sharp-shooter Megan O'Neil each scored 17 points to lead Columbia. Bramlette also grabbed 10 boards in the loss.
UIC will be back in action on Sunday as they host St. John's. That game will take place at the UIC Pavilion with the tip set for 5:00 p.m. CST.