By Joe Scalzo
Down to a wing and a prayer, Butler made a prayer on the wing.
Mandy McDivitt’s loooooong 3-pointer with 2.3 seconds left ruined Youngstown State’s comeback hopes as the Bulldogs handed the Penguins their sixth loss in eight games, 65-63, in Saturday’s Horizon League women’s basketball game at Beeghly Center.
“From a purist perspective, you’ve got to like it when kids make shots,” said YSU coach Bob Boldon. “It’s a moment that kid will remember for the rest of her life.
“From my perspective I think it stinks.”
YSU still had a chance in the final seconds. Standing under Butler’s basket, Penguins guard Monica Touvelle threw a pass to Brandi Brown near halfcourt, who quickly passed it to senior guard Macey Nortey, who was standing 6 feet behind the 3-point line on the right wing.
Nortey bypassed the shot, instead passing to an open Kenya Middlebrooks in the right corner. But time expired a split second before Middlebrooks could shoot and Nortey walked off the floor yelling at herself and pounding her chest.
“We probably needed another tenth of a second to get [the shot] off,” Boldon said. “We don’t have anybody on our team that can throw it from one end of the floor to the other. College men can throw the ball about 92 feet. We can’t. We can throw it about 45.
“Under the circumstances, Monica threw a very good pass, Brandi made a great catch and we got Macey the ball on the run to make a decision and I’ll live with that.”
The finish overshadowed a solid game for the Penguins (10-12, 4-7), who trailed by nine with 14 minutes left. There were five lead changes and two ties in the final two minutes and YSU had a chance to go up by three with 10 seconds left.
But Heidi Schlegel missed the front end of a one-and-one and Butler guard Devin Brierly drove downcourt, then handed the ball off to McDivitt, who was at least 4 feet behind the 3-point line on the winning shot.
McDivitt, a sophomore, tied career-highs with six 3-pointers and 18 points. She entered the game shooting 27 percent on 3s.
“Percentage-wise and playing the numbers, that’s definitely the shot you want to give up,” Brown said of McDivitt’s game-winner. “But there are things prior to that shot we could have done to make sure we were in the game or make sure we scored more points or got more stops.”
Brierly had 22 points and seven rebounds to lead Butler (10-12, 6-5). Brown led YSU with 23 points and five rebounds and Schlegel had 13 points.
“The last two or three minutes should decide most conference games and we’ve obviously got to figure out a way to pull a couple of these out,” said Boldon. “It’s part of the process. We’ll go through this and learn from it and hopefully in the future, whether it’s next week or next year, we’ll benefit from this.”