Maryville College came up just short in the USA South Quarterfinals on Saturday afternoon, as the Scots narrowly missed upsetting the conference's top-ranked Averett University, 68-65.
The Scots knotted the game at 64-all on a 9-0 run of their own with 2:31 left, as Averett would make enough free throws down the stretch to hold on for the 3-point victory.
Averett University jumped to a 9-0 lead early in the first quarter, before the Scots could break the 3:13 silence with a Kelley Wandell jumper at the right corner of the free-throw line. The Scots followed six straight points from Wandell from that point, as they went on an 11-2 run to tie things at 11-all.
A Hix lay-up was promptly followed by a Catherine Upshaw 3-pointer from Gardner tied the score.
The two teams traded baskets for a 17-17 score after one quarter. Maryville was aided by seven second-chance points in the first 10 minutes, as the recorded six total offensive rebounds.
Just 37 seconds into the second quarter, MC found their first lead of the contest. Gardner used an old-fashioned three-point play, as the junior guard pulled down a rebound on the far end, converting on the full-court drive. She gave MC a 20-17 lead at the 9:27 mark – their first advantage of the game.
Maryville would outscore the Cougars, 22-15, in the second quarter, as they followed Gardner for a 39-32 halftime advantage.
Gardner scored all 12 of her first-half points in the second quarter, as she scored nine of those in the final 2:46 of the half. She hit a buzzer-beater trey to finish the first 20 minutes with 12 points, six rebounds, a steal and an assist.
Hix added 10 first-half points for the Scots, as they held the seven-point advantage.
Maryville extended their lead to 11 points at the 7:19 mark of the third quarter, as Gardner bucketed back-to-back 3-pointers.
However, Averett would find a rally from that point, as the Scots went 5:39 without a point. The Cougars went on a 17-0 run to regain the lead, 53-47. Hix broke the silence at the 1:40 mark of the quarter with an old-fashioned three-point play, as she managed four points of a 6-2 run to end the third.
The Scots went to the final quarter trailing by two, 55-53.
Averett jumped to a 64-55 lead with 5:00 left, as the Scots rolled off nine straight – the last second coming from Eckenrod. Averett would managed free throws down the final minute for the three-point victory.
Maryville (13-14) was led by Gardner's 18 points, as she added seven rebounds, two assists and a steal. She had a trio of treys, while Hix had 14 points and four boards off the bench.
Eckenrod had 13 points, six rebounds and three assists, while going 2-of-2 from beyond the arc. Wandell had a game-high 15 rebounds to go with nine points, four blocks, two steals and an assist, as Varney added six points. Upshaw had three points, as Brooke McCurdy added two.
The Scots shot 23-of-67 (34.3 percent) from the floor, as they bucketed five treys. MC went 14-of-21 (66.7 percent) from the free-throw line in the game.
Averett (18-8) shot 39.3 percent (24-of-61) on the day, while making five treys of their own. They went 15-of-27 from the charity stripe for a 55.6 percent effort.
The Cougars were led by Alixis Roccia's 17 points and five assists, as Amani Ajayi had 16 points and eight boards. Ravyn Johnson had a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Brooke Carthon had a team-high 14 rebounds.