Short-handed Diamondbacks make free throws to win Southwest League matchup

With two starters off the court, Desert Oasis’ girls basketball team made the free throws it had to in the final minutes to seal a 57-52 road win Thursday night against Spring Valley.

The Diamondbacks were without sophomores Brianna Clark, who hurt her knee Monday, and Ahmaya Smith, who was out for grades.

“I was hoping (playing without those starters) wouldn’t defeat us and it didn’t,” Desert Oasis coach Laurie Evans-Gygax said. “We could have easily come out and used that as an excuse and not played as hard as we did.”

Sophomore Sierra Mich’l led the Diamondbacks in scoring with 18, and teammate Ashlynn Sharp added 14 points.

After a slow first quarter for the Grizzlies, Spring Valley bounced back in the second to make it a tie game at 24 heading into the half.

However, Desert Oasis would take a lead early in the third quarter and would hold on to it for most of the remainder of the game.

“It was fun to watch them pull through as a team because these girls are phenomenal, they have a lot of talent but they have yet to put it together,” Evans-Gygax said.

Desert Oasis struggled making free throws, and ended the night going 7-for-29 from the foul line. But the Diamondbacks played well on defense and in the big moments the made the shots they had to in order to win. Desert Oasis scored its final five points from the free-throw line.

“The confidence is big, proving to them that even though we missed free throws and missed layups, in the end you can still pull it off if you play good defense,” Evans-Gygax said.

Two free throws from Sharp with less than 90 seconds to play gave the Diamondbacks a 54-52 lead.

With the Grizzlies trailing by two points with less a minute to play, junior Taryn Lampkin fought hard for a rebound that gave possession back to the Diamondbacks and all but sealed the game for Desert Oasis.

A focus for the Diamondbacks leading into the game was not letting the crowd get to them in the final moments.

“Our big focus yesterday was don’t let it bother you, stay focused. And they kind of proved it toward the end with the made free throws, not letting the crowd get to them,” she said. “I was proud, it didn’t seem to phase them tonight.”

After a loss to Bishop Gorman Monday, Evans-Gygax said she thought her team didn’t want to accept another loss.

“So finally even with two starters out, we’re limited on the bench, we were able to finish. It was exactly what we needed,” she said.

Desert Oasis improved to 12-5, and sits in second place in the Southwest League at 5-1. Spring Valley fell to 10-7. The Grizzlies are third in the Southwest at 4-2.

Contact Bill Slane at Follow @bill_slane on Twitter.

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