AMHERST — Comets senior Sydney Failing doesn’t actually spend all her spare time on the free throw line. But she spends a lot of it there — in the driveway at home, at practice and during games.
Failing spent a big chunk of the fourth quarter on the foul line Saturday afternoon and she didn’t fail.
She made 11 of 12 foul shots in the period, including nine of 10 in the final two minutes, to lift Amherst past Westlake 49-41 in a Southwestern Conference thriller. It was the fifth win in a row for the Comets (11-2, 7-2 SWC). Failing finished with a game-high 25 points.
The win was neither easy nor especially pretty.
Westlake (9-7, 4-5) led after each of the first two quarters. The teams were tied at 26 going into the fourth, but Amherst moved ahead after a 7-0 run early in the quarter. During the run, Failing completed a 3-point play, senior Brianna Shagovac hit an outside shot and sophomore Brooke Wallace made two of her four straight foul shots.
There were two more ties — at 34 and 37 — and the Demons led once more, 39-37, after Liz Kobe made two foul shots with 2:17 to play. But Amherst closed it out with a 12-2 spurt.
It started after Failing was fouled attempting a 3-point field goal. She made all three foul shots for a 40-39 lead with 1:59 to play.
“I’m always in the gym practicing my free throws,” Failing said. “Coach has us practice them every single day and on the weekends I get out and practice. It’s natural. I know most games will come down to free throw shooting and that’s why I practice.”
As a team, the Comets made
17 of 20 free throws in the second half, 16 of 18 in the fourth quarter. They were 19-for-23 for the game. Foul shots won it, because each team made 14 field goals and the Demons outshot the Comets 3-2 outside the 3-point line.
Wallace, the Comets’ 6-foot-2 post, made five of six foul shots and finished with 15 points after scoring only three the first half. She scored the team’s first three baskets in the third quarter — all from close range — and completed a double-double with
“We came into the locker room at the half and Coach told us, ‘Brooke’s wide open,’” Failing said. “He said to just get the ball to her and that’s when we’ll know our offense is moving better. When Brooke’s involved in the game, she ties us all together.”
The Comets had 19 turnovers in the first half, thanks in large measure to Westlake’s full-court zone. The press bothered them, although they figured out how to break it the final 16 minutes.
“Quite honestly, I thought we stunk the first half and I told them that at halftime,” Amherst coach John Rositano said. “We had a little (pregame) talk about coming out focused and coming out ready to play. They weren’t ready to play. The ball was getting thrown all over the gym, and 19 turnovers in 16 minutes isn’t ready to play.
“In the second half, we looked like a different team out there.”
Kobe, the Demons’ 5-9 senior guard, scored a team-high 16 points. Maggie Zimmerman, a
5-6 guard, finished with 10.
“We just couldn’t finish,” Westlake coach Chip Weiss said. “Down the stretch we had opportunities, but we turned the ball over, we took quick shots and we didn’t take care of the ball at the end.”
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135
Amherst 49, Westlake 41
WESTLAKE (41): Taylor Hood 0-0-0, Liz Kobe 4-7-16, Corinne Furci 0-0-0, Maggie Zimmerman 4-1-10, Rachel Collins 3-0-6, Allison Collins 0-0-0, Kelly Laraway 1-1-4, Maddie Charnosky 0-0-0, Madison Dunlap 0-0-0, Monica Fury 2-1-5. Totals 14-10-41.
AMHERST (49): Sheridan Champe 1-1-3, Hannah Brosky 0-0-0, Morgan Dziak 1-0-2, Brianna Shaovac 2-0-4, Mallory Sliman 0-0-0, Sydney Failing 5-13-25, Megan Salisbury 0-0-0, Gabrielle Basinski 0-0-0, Brooke Wallace 5-5-15. Totals 14-19-49.
Westlake 10 9 7 15 — 41
Amherst 6 6 14 23 — 49
3-point goals: Westlake 3-14 (Zimmerman, Kobe, Laraway); Amherst 2-15 (Failing 2). Field goals: Westlake 14-55 (25.5 percent); Amherst 14-60 (23.3 percent). Free throws: Westlake 10-16; Amherst 19-23. Rebounds: Westlake 36; Amherst 42. Turnovers: Westlake 23; Amherst 24.
Junior varsity: Westlake, 50-40.