NITRO -- South Charleston's Lina Villanueva knew she didn't have her offensive touch Thursday night, so she found other ways to make her mark.
The sophomore sank the front end of a 1-plus-1 free-throw attempt with 11.7 seconds left in overtime, then after missing the second try, stole the ball to seal the Black Eagles' 61-58 victory over host Nitro. A crowd of about 300 attended the Class AAA Mountain State Athletic Conference matchup.
Villanueva's first made foul shot gave SC a 59-58 lead, but she couldn't connect on the second attempt. Nitro's Halie Miller controlled the rebound, but Villanueva came up with a steal and fed the ball to freshman Taliah Cashwell, who missed the jump shot. Black Eagles senior Alliyah Webb snagged the rebound and stuck it back in for a 61-58 edge with 4.6 seconds to go.
By the time Nitro pushed the ball past mid-court and SC's pressure the buzzer sounded before the Wildcats could get a shot off.
Villanueva made 1 of 13 shots from the field, missed all six of her 3-point attempts and hit on 2 of 4 free throws to finish with four points. She did, however, grab four rebounds, hand out five assists and spearhead the pressure defense with eight steals.
"Whenever I was at the [foul] line I was really nervous,'' said Villanueva. "I made sure I made my first one. Whenever I missed my second. I was looking at [Miller's] eyes and I knew she was going to pass it so I jumped into the passing lane.
"I knew I couldn't shoot. The only thing I could do was play defense. That was the main thing I tried to work on. I saw that I was helping the team so that made me feel a little better.''
Nitro sophomore point guard Savannah Shamblin sank both shots of a 1-plus-1 free throw with 6.4 seconds to go in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 53-all and send it into the four-minute OT period.
SC took the lead for good on senior Laci Jarrell's foul shot at 54-53 with 3:25 left in overtime, but Shamblin nailed a jump shot with 32.7 seconds left to set up Villanueva's heroics. It appeared Shamblin's shot was a 3, but the referee closest to the play never signaled and the one at mid-court shrugged his shoulders.