Cotton Blossoms use late free throws to trip ECU

East Central’s Hannah Ladd (0), Madison Rehl (3) and Sam Schwab (32) appear to have Arkansas-Monticello’s Berniezha Tidwell (1) in a bind during their Great American Conference contest Saturday inside the Kerr Activities Center.

Arkansas-Monticello sank five free throws in the final 27 seconds by Berniezha Tidwell to turn back the East Central women 59-55 in Great American Conference action Saturday inside the Kerr Activities Center.

The Tigers dropped to 3-11 overall and 1-7 in conference play, while the Cotton Blossoms improved to 10-4 and 5-3.

A Hannah Ladd layup got East Central within 54-53 with 37 seconds left, but Tidwell hit a pair of free throws and got a steal and was sent back to the line with :19 remaining. She hit the second of two free shots to put the visitors on top 57-53.

Another UAM takeaway — this time a steal from Mekaylan Hicks — resulted in Tidwell stepping to the charity stripe and sinking two more free shots with 15 seconds left to ice the game.

East Central led by as many as 10 in the second quarter (17-7). However, the Cotton Blossoms ended the first half on a 15-4 run and led 22-21 at halftime.

Two Madison Rehl free throws at the 8:07 mark of the third period had ECU back on top, 27-22.

However, another big UAM run — this time a 15-7 volley — sent the Cotton Blossoms into the fourth quarter with a 37-35 lead.

Ladd led the ECU offense with a career-high 22 points, including four 3-pointers. Kendall Schulte was next for the Tigers with 11 points and five rebounds.

Sam Schwab reached double figures for ECU with 10 points to go with six rebounds. Rehl chipped in eight points and hit 6-of-6 free throws.

Tidwell led the Cotton Blossoms with 22 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the free-throw line.

East Central hit 15-of-16 free throws in the game, compared to a 17-of-25 showing by Monticello.

The ECU women travel to old rival Southeastern (10-2) at 5:30 p.m. tonight.

Jeff Cali has been covering sports in the Ada area since the mid-90s. He graduated from Byng High School and earned a bachelor’s degree from East Central University.

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