It could've been the tremendous save by LaQuasha Jordan as she was falling out of bounds, a pass that led to a critical layup late in the game.
Or it could've been any of the well-run offensive sets that led to a close-range basket by Tiffany Haywood.
Or any by the defense that forced a staggering 29 turnovers and 24 FSU points off of turnovers.
Or it may have been freshman Je'Lena Robertson stepping to the line with Fayetteville State holding a tenuous three-point lead 23 seconds left. Why? Because she made them both.
Any one of them could've been the play of the year for the Lady Broncos. That's because Fayetteville State took on a University of the District of Columbia team that had beaten them by 23 points only 21 days before and found a way to win 69-62 on Monday night at Felton J. Capel Arena.
"It's a tremendous win; that's the perfect adjective for it," said Fayetteville State head coach Eva Patterson-Heath. "This is a huge confidence-booster for us."
"It's a tremendous win; that's the perfect adjective for it. This is a huge confidence-booster for us."
Haywood (Sr., Fayetteville, NC) came off the bench to record her sixth double-double of the season, scoring 15 of her team-high 19 points in the second half to go with 12 rebounds for Fayetteville State (5-11), which won for the fourth time in its last five games. Amanda Sinclair (Jr. Red Springs, NC) nearly went for a triple-double scoring 10 points to go with eight assists, seven rebounds and five steals. Jordan (Greenville, NC) added 12 points, four assists and three steals while Tierra Coleman (So., Cameron, NC) had seven points and 10 rebounds. SheQuitia Manning had eight rebounds, and Robertson finished 6-for-6 from the foul line to score nine points.
In the early going the game mirrored the teams' first meeting, which the Lady Firebirds (12-7) won 77-54 on Jan. 3 UDC, which had won five straight games and was fresh off a 92-31 victory over Salem International on Jan. 18. UDC jumped out to a 21-11 lead with 6 minutes to go in the first half on a 9-0 run that only took 54 seconds.
But the Lady Broncos, who struggled taking care of the ball in the first half, began to settle down in the final minutes of the first half. Fayetteville State was effective in its halfcourt set, and trimmed the deficit to six, 33-27, by halftime.
In the second half, though, it was UDC that couldn't handle the defensive pressure. The Lady Firebirds committed 15 turnovers in the second half, and using the opportunities to get out and run, Fayetteville State put together a decisive 27-8 scoring binge over an 8-minute stretch, taking a 54-43 lead midway through the second period.
Haywood had a big part in the spurt. Establishing position deep in the post, Haywood was the beneficiary of solid entry passes from the likes of Jordan, Sinclair and Robertson. She finished around the basket, hitting 7 of 10 field goal attempts to rattle UDC, which used its final timeout with over 3 minutes still left in the game.
Still, the game was not decided until the final seconds. UDC amped up its defensive pressure and quickly got within six, 63-57, with 3:04 to play.
The teams stalled from there - until Jordan's nearly miraculous play. The ball bounding toward the scorer's table at halfcourt, Jordan reached it as she was falling out of bounds. But instead of tossing the ball backwards, she instinctively lobbed it high into the air and into the Lady Broncos' frontcourt. Sinclair raced down the floor to retrieve the pass, and made the layup for a critical basket, giving FSU a 65-57 lead with 1:47 remaining.
But UDC didn't go away, and found its way to the foul line after grabbing quick steals to get within three, 65-62, with 26 seconds left. The Lady Firebirds were forced to foul, sending the freshman Robertson (Houston, TX) to the line with 23 seconds remaining. At 78.9 percent, Robertson is the team's top foul shooter, and after rattling the first foul shot in, she calmly swished the second to preserve the victory.
Jamilia Bonner led UDC with 14 points, 10 of them coming before the 6-minute mark in the first half as the Lady Firebirds built their lead. Kendra Johnson had 10 points while Lillian McGill had eight points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
The Lady Broncos host Virginia State at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday at Felton J. Capel Arena.