ADA, Ohio — Archbold could not find its shooting touch in the first half of a Division III regional semifinal on Tuesday night but the Blue Streaks' defense never lost its stinginess.
Fourth-ranked Archbold rallied to knock off No. 6 Liberty-Benton 37-33 at Ohio Northern University.
The Blue Streaks made just 6 of their first 22 shots (27.3 percent) and trailed 17-13 at the half. Employing a full-court press, the Archbold defense forced 19 turnovers, including 10 in the first half.
The Blue Streaks then recovered from the field and hit 8 of 18 shots (44 percent) in the second half.
“We said to dig down defensively and that the shots will fall by the end and that's what happened,” Archbold coach Brian Ziegler said.
Archbold's Cassidy Williams drained a 3-pointer to tie it at 32 with 2:28 left. Hannah Hesterman then grabbed an offensive rebound and scored on a putback to give the Blue Streaks a 34-32 lead with 1:36 remaining.
The Eagles missed two of three free-throw attempts down the stretch, while Archbold hit three of four foul shots to seal it.
“We missed free throws and they had a few that they converted at the end and that was the difference,” L-B coach Nate Irwin said. “They came down and hit a 3 and we couldn't get back into then.”
Williams led Archbold (24-2) with 14 points, including two 3-pointers in the second half.
“It felt pretty good,” Williams said of the tying 3. “You have to forget about the past and play for the future. It came down to the hard work we put in and that felt good.”
The Eagles held Archbold's leading scorer Cassidy Wyse to eight points. But Wyse also had six rebounds.
Rachel Myers paced Liberty-Benton (22-3) with 17 points. Lauren Kotey had 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Eagles.
The Blue Streaks forced seven turnovers, mostly off of their full-court press, in the first quarter to take a 10-8 lead. But Liberty-Benton opened up the second quarter with a 7-0 run.
Liberty-Benton had seized a 17-10 lead after Archbold missed its first seven shots to start the second quarter. But Alexa Coressell nailed a 3-pointer just before the buzzer and made it 17-13 at the half.
“That was a huge momentum breaker right before half,” Zielger said.
Archbold made just one of 10 shots in the second quarter but stormed back with a 10-2 spurt to start the third quarter. Williams scored nine of the those points, including a 3-pointer, as the Blue Streaks grabbed a 23-19 lead with 2:28 left in the quarter.
Archbold made 5 of 10 shots in the third to take a 25-24 lead entering the fourth.
“I knew we were not making a lot of shots but you just have to keep taking them,” Wyse said. “We knew Liberty-Benton was a great team and that it would be hard fought.”
L-B went on a 6-0 run to take a 35-25 lead with 5:32 left in the game. Archbold responded with a 9-2 spurt to go up by two. The Eagles drew back within one on a free throw, but Jesse Fidler salted it away with two free throws with 33 seconds left.
Archbold advances to face the winner of today’s regional semifinal between Columbus Africentric and Bucyrus Wynford. The regional final is Saturday at 1 p.m. at Lexington.