MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- Hannah Lombard drained a 3-pointer with just seconds remaining and the Bradley Central Bearettes broke a 43-year drought defeating Houston, 46-44, in the 2019 TSSAA AAA State Championship game.
After Bradley (34-3) went into the locker room up 29-20, the Bearettes came out of the locker room firing. They extended the lead to 12 on a Jamaryn Blair old fashioned three-point play on the opening possession but Houston (31-3) began to chip away.
The Lady Mustangs went on a little run cutting the gap to five at the third quarter media timeout before taking the lead with 1:39 left in the quarter. Bradley got a stop with four seconds remaining and Blair came up with the rebound, just narrowly missing a half-court shot at the buzzer going into the final frame down 35-34.
The Bearettes were able to knot things up at 37 all when Anna Walker came right off the bench and hit a three with 6:36 left. Houston responded with a 3-pointer of their own by Madison Griggs and Jayla Hemingway was able to get a bucket and push the lead back to five before the final media timeout.
Bradley Central answered with a four-point run, trimming the lead to one with a pair of free throws and a basket by Blair with 3:30 remaining. Blair continued her heroics at the charity stripe, hitting two to give Bradley the lead with just over two minutes to go.
Houston regained the lead as Melissa Carter got an offensive rebound and hit the putback to give the Lady Mustangs a 44-43 lead with 1:37 remaining.
Lombard then was able to draw a foul but missed the front end of a one-and-one and Houston raced to the other end. Hemingway pulled up with 1:01 left and the ball was knocked out of bounds and Bradley had 60 seconds to score to complete the comeback.
After a couple of timeouts, Bradley turned the ball over with 24 seconds remaining and all hope looked lost until the Bearettes forced a traveling violation with 11 seconds left and they had one last chance.
Bradley called a timeout, tried to set up a play for Blair, but it was not there. The sophomore point guard then flipped the ball to Lombard who shot immediately, and the ball hit nothing but net to give the Bearettes a 46-44 lead. The clock hit zero and the celebration ensued until the officials got together and put 1.2 seconds left back on the clock, due to a Houston timeout.
Both teams came out and the Lady Mustangs coach saw what Bradley was going to do on defense and called his final timeout to set up one last play. The Bearette defense though did not even allow the inbound pass to go in forcing a five-second violation and all Bradley had to do was inbound the ball and they were crowned the state champions.
Blair recorded a career-high 25 points in the contest to go along with four assists. Lombard had her only three points in the final seconds going 1-for-2 from the floor and pulled down a team-high six rebounds in the win. Walker was the next leading scorer for the Bearettes throwing in 10 points of her own.
Bradley Central shot 17-of-40 (42.5 percent) overall and was 7-for-17 (41.2 percent) from 3-point distance. The Bearettes missed only one free throw shooting 5-for-6 (83.3 percent) from the charity stripe.
Bradley matched Houston with 11 points off turnovers, outscored the Lady Mustangs 7-2 on fast breaks, and 5-2 in bench scoring and won despite being outscored 20-12 in the paint, and 13-2 on second-chance scoring.
Hemingway recorded a double-double to wrap up her career and to lead Houston with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Griggs was the next leading scorer with 10 and Carter was a point shy of a double-double with nine points and 13 rebounds, seven offensive.
The Lady Mustangs outrebounded Bradley 35-12 while recording 16 offensive boards for their 13 second-chance points. Houston went 16-for-50 (32 percent) and 4-for-13 (30.8 percent) from behind the 3-point line. The Lady Mustangs shot 80 percent (8-for-10) from the free throw line.
With the win, Bradley Central broke a 43-year streak without a championship. The last gold ball came back to Bradley when legendary coach Jim Smiddy won his final one in 1976 and was declared the national champions the same year with a 36-0 record.
A community celebration will begin at Bradley on Monday, March 18th at 10:00 p.m. at Jim Smiddy Arena.
For all of the latest news and information be sure to follow the Bearettes on Twitter @BC_Bearettes and join us on the web at bradleybearettes.com
Bradley Central - 11 18 5 12 46
Houston - 14 6 15 9 44
Bradley Central (46): Hughes 3, Roberts,Jamaryn Blair 25, Anna Walker 10, Lombard 3, Mayo 3, Reuter, Barnes 2, Williams.
Houston (44): Jayla Hemingway 16, Gary, Maddison Griggs 10, Wells 7, Carter 9, Wilson 2, Davis.
3-Pointers: Bradley Central (7): Hughes, Blair 2, Walker 2, Lombard, Mayo. Houston (4): Hemingway, Griggs 2, Carter.