HUNTINGTON, Ind. — A milestone moment was overshadowed by the moment that might have been Tuesday night as the Goshen College women’s basketball team dropped a 69-63 decision to Huntington University in the quarterfinals of the Crossroads League tournament.Seconds after the stroke of 8 p.m. EST, Goshen junior Jo’Mani Thomas sank a free throw to become the 12th Maple Leaf in school history to score 1,000 career points. Thomas finished the game with five points, giving her 1,002 in three seasons, and the foul shot put her team ahead 41-40 with 16:24 to play.
Goshen (18-13, 9-9 CL) led for much of the first half, pulling ahead by as many as six and taking a 36-31 advantage into the locker rooms. The visitors shot 50 percent (16-for-32) from the floor and forced their hosts into seven turnovers against two Maple Leaf giveaways.
When the second half started with a field goal from senior Avery Bischoff, Goshen had its largest lead of the game. But the Foresters went on a 7-0 run over the next 90 seconds capped by a Miranda Palmer three-pointer to tie the game at 38. And after Thomas’s free throw, another 8-0 run put them out in front for good.
“It’s difficult to put into words how we all feel right now,” said Goshen head coach Stephanie Miller. “We’re disappointed that we let another good 1st half get away, proud of the journey we have taken together this season, and sad we have to say goodbye to three seniors that mean so much to us.
“In the first half, we were matching their offensive output and making them take very difficult shots,” Miller said. “In the second half, we missed some early shots, which put pressure on our defense to have to get many stops in a row. With an offense like Huntington’s, you can’t fall too far back or free throws will play a big role in the outcome. That was the case tonight.”
Palmer and Amelia Recker of Huntington (21-8) led all scorers with 24 and 23 points, respectively, Goshen’s Keshia Ward, first-year, turned in a game-high 12 rebounds, finishing a point short of yet another double-double. Junior Liz Tecca (17 points) and sophomore Sophia Sears (13) paced Goshen’s offense, and Sears’ seven assists were also a game high.
Fourth-seeded Huntington advances to play top-seeded Indiana Wesleyan in the Crossroads League semifinals on Friday night in Marion, Ind. The Maple Leafs finish the season with 18 wins, tied for the third-most in school history and more than the previous four seasons combined, and return 80 percent of their roster along with 91 percent of their scoring for the 2015-16 campaign.
“We will always remember this senior class for what they have done to pave the way for the future of our program,” Miller said. “Megan, Jaime, and Avery are the definition of perseverance and have brought new pride to what it means to be a part of the GC women’s basketball family. I was disappointed in the outcome this evening, but will not loose sight of what tremendous growth we’ve had this year. Though it is the end for now, it’s just the beginning of a new direction for our program. Despite the loss, we do want to congratulate Jo’mani tonight for going over the 1000 pt. mark. She has played big for us this season & we are proud of both her personal & athletic growth.”