Ford propels Bruins to 68-67 victory over Wildcats

Kendra Jeffcott dribbles toward the Wildcats’ defense. Photo: Ethan Rogers

Kendra Jeffcott dribbles toward the Wildcats’ defense. Photo: Ethan Rogers

The Lady Bruins earned a victory Tuesday night, defeating the Johnson and Wales University Wildcats in dramatic fashion 68-67. Senior guard Maggi Ford led the comeback for the Bruins with a BJU record-setting 32 points, including 26 in the second half alone.

Junior forward Julia Wright gave the Bruins five of their first six points, giving the Bruins an 11-4 lead early in the half. The Wildcats returned the Bruins’ efforts with a 16-2 run to take the lead. JWU held a 40-26 lead at the break, led by freshman forward Jaquana Pauling.

In the Bruins’ locker room at the half, Coach Mike LeViere encouraged his team to step up. “I told them we weren’t playing like us; this isn’t the team we are,” LeViere said. “Our defense was awful. We made silly mistakes and were totally out of sync on the floor.” He then motivated the Bruins on the defensive side of the ball. “There will be games where we have poor shooting, but that is no excuse for not playing defense,” he said.

Coming out of the locker room, the Bruins caught fire behind Maggi Ford. Early in the second half, the Wildcats pushed their lead up to a 17-point difference. Ford proved to be a force to contend with, though, after hitting back-to-back 3-point baskets. The Bruins’ defense stepped up, as well, forcing multiple turnovers and missed shots.

Ford gives all the credit to Assistant Coach Emily Miller. “One of my coaches just challenged me to be on fire for my team,” Ford said. “She said that she just couldn’t see the fire in my eyes, me wanting to get the ball, [or] me wanting to score.”

With help from Ford’s 26 second-half points, the Bruins finally regained the lead for the first time since early in the game with five minutes left on the clock. With six seconds left in the game after another basket that gave the Wildcats a one-point lead, Ford was fouled and bucketed both free 3-shots to give the Bruins a one-point win.

Accurate free-throw shooting, Ford’s 3-pointers and strong rebounding proved to be too much for the Wildcats, as they were unable to convert a buzzer-beating attempt for the win.

Ford recorded 32 points, the most points scored in any game by a female Bruin in program history. Junior guard Kendra Jeffcott also contributed another strong showing as she tallied 12 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals.

The Lady Bruins, now 11-11 overall for the season, match up with Warren Wilson College Friday at 6 p.m. in the Davis Field House. BJU then takes on rival Clearwater Christian College in a home game Saturday at 5 p.m.