Missing 25 free throws in a basketball game would normally result in a losing effort.
Shockingly, it didn’t for host Green Valley on Tuesday night.
Because what the 10th-ranked Gators lacked in their 15-foot freebies, they made up for in tenacious defense and rebounding.
Green Valley finished with a 52-38 rebound advantage and added 12 steals en route to a 58-56 victory over No. 6 Faith Lutheran in a battle of interconference opponents.
“Second half, we really pounded the glass,” Gators coach Eric Johnston said. “That was the focus at halftime. It was on the top of the board. Every kid out there was tipping, rebounding. They did a great job.”
Green Valley went 20 for 45 from the line — 44.4 percent — including just 11 of 24 in the fourth quarter to allow the Crusaders back into the game.
After grabbing a 56-49 lead with 59.7 seconds remaining, the Gators (4-1) missed six of their last eight free throws. With 3.8 seconds left, Faith Lutheran freshman Skye Chapman-Landaz caught a full-court pass from an inbounds play but missed a runner from the left corner as time expired.
“You know when (Faith Lutheran’s) on the schedule that it’s going to be a really tough game,” said Johnston, whose team held the Crusaders to 26.9 percent shooting. “They’re never going to quit. They’re going to fight the whole way. And sure enough, they did and had a shot to tie it at the end.”
Fortunately for the Gators, several of their missed free throws and shots resulted in offensive rebounds and high-percentage putbacks. Three players finished with double-digit rebounds.
“(Coach) was really (emphasizing) rebounding,” said freshman guard Michelle Lagunas-Monroy, who finished with nine points, 10 rebounds and five assists. “And that we had a size advantage and had to get all the rebounds.”
Temerity Bauer had a team-high 14 points, and Samara Miller added 11 points, 13 boards and three blocks for Green Valley.
Shelby Clark scored 11 of her 13 points from the line for the Gators. The junior hit a pair of free throws at the 7:01 mark to give Green Valley a 43-42 lead and spark an 8-2 run to open the fourth quarter.
Kayla Proctor had 21 points, 12 rebounds and two steals, and Madison Bocobo had 13 points, four rebounds and three steals to lead Faith Lutheran (3-3).