Westville, Ind. - Tiffin women's basketball's first win of the 2018-19 season certainly did not come without some late-game excitement, as after trailing for most of the contest, Annie Santucci was able to knock down a game-tying triple and pair of clutch free-throws in the finals seconds to lift the Dragons to a 76-74 victory over McKendree on Saturday afternoon.
Santucci finished with a game-high 25 points, while Jensen Hiegel stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points, five rebounds, four assists, and four steals. For the game, Tiffin outshot McKendree 46% to 41%, and were able to capitalize on lackluster free-three shooting by the Bearcats (16-25, 64%).
Despite not scoring over the final four minutes of the first quarter, the Dragons were able to stay with McKendree and trail by just one, 15-14, at the end of the first period.
Tiffin took an 18-15 lead a few minutes into the second quarter on back-to-back buckets from Santucci, but the Bearcats responded with an 11-0 run to go up 26-18 with 4:30 left in the half. That margin would hold throughout the remainder of the half, as McKendree went into the break with a 33-26 lead.
The Bearcats controlled much of the third period, taking leads of as much as 14 before Tiffin chipped away right before the end of the quarter to send the deficit back down to seven, 57-50.
That deficit was then erased in a hurry at the start of the fourth quarter, as the Dragons scored the first 11 points of the period, including five from Aarion Nichols, to take a 61-57 advantage.
McKendree was able to stop the bleeding and regroup, and eventually take a four-point lead, 72-68, with just 23 seconds remaining in regulation. Ali Schirmer cut the deficit to one with an old-fashioned three-point play, but a pair of Bearcat free throws pushed it back up to three. Santucci then raced down the court on the ensuing possession and wasted no time in drilling a triple to tie the game at 74 with 15 seconds left on the clock.
After a miss on the other end by McKendree, Santucci managed to draw a foul just before time expired, and calmly drained both free throws to give the Dragons the thrilling 76-74 victory.
Next up for Tiffin will be a road trip down to Urbana University on Wednesday, Nov. 14. Game time is set for 6:00 p.m.