Western's second-ranked girls basketball team can be thankful yesterday was a tough day at the free-throw line for No. 10 Milford Mill.
Otherwise, the Doves would not have escaped with a 44-43 win in the ninth annual Basketball Academy at Morgan State's Hill Field House.
The Millers missed eight free throws in the fourth quarter but still managed to whittle a 44-36 Western lead to 44-43 with 46 seconds to go.
The Doves turned the ball over 13 times in the final quarter, mostly under heavy pressure from Millers guards Shawna Scott and Tammy Rogers, who finished with 10 steals to go with 19 points.
However, Western also made a backcourt turnover that gave the Millers the ball with 7.7 seconds left. Carlene Bryson's three-point attempt rimmed out at the buzzer.
"We make it very difficult," said Western coach Donchez Graham. "Milford is a very game Team, and they came to play. In spurts, we matched their intensity, but we still don't have the killer instinct. We don't put you away. We leave you standing, and that's hurt us."
The Doves (5-3) had what should have been a dominating inside presence with 6-3 Whitney Cunningham and 6-1 Zhondria Benn, but the duo combined for just 13 points. Benn, however, played a key role in the final quarter, grabbing five of her 20 rebounds.
Rogers, who transferred back to Milford Mill from St. Frances last spring, and Scott gave the Millers a backcourt intensity that never seemed to wane.
The two have been playing together since they were 10 years old on the Baltimore Cougars Amateur Athletic Union team, coached most recently by Graham.
The Western coach wasn't surprised by anything they did on the court.
"They have chemistry," Graham said. "They go after it. Everything I watched them do are things I've watched them do for years. They're fearless, assured, confident."
Rogers hit a 25-foot buzzer-beater at halftime to bring the Millers within 24-22, and they didn't fall further behind until the Doves went on a 7-0 run to open the fourth quarter.
Lavon Woods fed Nicole Matthews with 5:48 for a 42-34 Western lead.
Then, the Millers (6-1) missed four free throws before Chelsea Jeter hit a pair with 3:46 to go. Brianna Johnson's short jumper gave the Doves their last points and a 44-36 advantage before the Millers started cutting the gap.
"We just couldn't knock down our free throws," said Scott, a 5-6 senior. "We stepped up our pressure on the ball, but we missed a couple layups and too many free throws."
Riverdale Baptist 62, No. 9 Woodlawn 44: All-Metro guard Brittney Taylor led the Warriors (7-2) with 14 points and Milan Heard added 12, but that wasn't enough to thwart the Crusaders (16-1), ranked No. 1 by The Washington Post.
Janai Jackson and Xenia Steward scored 15 each for Riverdale Baptist.
Roosevelt 57, City 54: The Knights and the Rough Riders of Washington each hit the same number of field goals and the same number of free throws. Three Roosevelt three-pointers made the difference.
The Rough Riders, ranked No. 6 by The Post, got 22 points from guard Shanae Brice.
Madea Bailey led the Knights (4-5) with 17 points, and Ebony Smith added 12.