Institute of Notre Dame twins Kelly and Kim Pryce not only got the present they wanted for their 18th birthday, they helped work for it.
In what will go down as one of the more bizarre and thrilling finishes in the 30-year rivalry between IND and Mercy, the Indians somehow managed to escape with a 56-55 overtime victory before 3,000 fans last night at Loyola College's Reitz Arena.
Kim Pryce, the taller of the two sisters at 5-foot-9, came up big for the Indians down the stretch, hitting a basket with no time left to send the game into overtime and then hitting two three-pointers and what proved to be the winning foul shot in overtime.
"This is my most favorite game I've ever played in," said Kim Pryce, who finished with a game-high 23 points and six rebounds. "I don't think I've ever been this emotional after any game."
After all, this wasn't just any game. This was "The Game" according to the program. The two Catholic League teams have been meeting at a neutral site since 1967 and Mercy held a 19-10 lead in the series. But, as in most rivalries, Mercy and IND threw out the records and the rankings and went at it for 36 minutes.
No. 10 Mercy (16-9), which was led by Shannon Cohen's 23 points, thought it was going to avoid extended play when Kim Pryce missed a foul shot with her team trailing by two points with 10 seconds left in regulation.
However, on Pryce's second free throw teammate Brandy Ault and Mercy's Ashlee Courter stepped into the lane causing a double-violation jump ball. With the possession arrow pointing in the Indians' favor, No. 19 IND (13-8) was given one more opportunity to tie it and it did as Kim Pryce followed up a miss by April Jones as time expired.
"It was heartbreaking when I missed that first foul shot. I thought the game was over," said Kim Pryce.
Said IND coach Deb Taylor: "A guy at the scorer's table asked me if I called for the double-violation and I said, 'If I called that, I'm a heck of a coach,' because we lucked out."
Cohen, who fouled out with 1:24 left in overtime after being called for two charging violations, caught fire early for the Magic in the first quarter, scoring eight of Mercy's first 10 points, six via three-pointers.
The Indians held the lead after a soft shot off the glass by Robin Johnson but Ashlee Courter answered with a bank shot and then completed the three-point play at the foul line to give the Magic a 28-26 halftime lead.
"We couldn't get anything to drop at the end," said Mercy coach Mary Ella Marion. "I expected a really good game because we lost to them by 12 earlier in the season."