LEBANON — McKendree University freshman guard Liz Gilman scored on a putback layup with three-seconds remaining to cap off a 61-60 comeback win at Missouri Baptist University in the women's basketball season opener on Saturday afternoon.
The Bearcats improved to 1-0 overall with the win and will host their home opener against Missouri S&T on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The victory was also head coach Melissa Ringhausen's 298th as head coach at McKendree.
Sophomore guard Caty Ponce led all players with 21 points and Gilman recorded double-digits in her collegiate debut with 14 points and a team-high seven rebounds.
McKendree scored the first bucket of the game on a jumper by junior guard Brittany Willis and took a 5-4 lead on a three-pointer by Ponce with just under 18 minutes to play in the first half. The host Spartans bounced back and outscored the Bearcats, 16-2, over the next seven minutes to jump out to a 20-7 lead.
McKendree cut the deficit to 28-23 on a free throw by senior forward Shelby Woelfel with 4:31 remaining in the half, but Missouri Baptist held on to lead 36-28 at the break.
The Bearcats trailed by as many as 15 in the second half, but Ponce scored 16 of her 21 points in the second half to lead McKendree to the win.
Trailing 50-35 with 10:22 remaining, the Bearcats cut the deficit to single-digits, 54-46, on two free throws by Ponce with 7:35 remaining in the game. A three-pointer by Gilman with 2:14 left cut the deficit to 60-59, and the game-winner came on a putback by Gilman off a missed three-pointer by Ponce with three-seconds left.
Kristyne Smyth and Kirby led the Spartans with 18 and 10 points, respectively.