Fulton’s Olivia Gowin only needed one shot and three points to make her presence known Friday against Kirksville.
Gowin’s only bucket of the night was a 3-pointer 20 seconds left to help Fulton go and win in Kirksville, 38-35.
For coach Nick Totta, Friday’s last becomes the fourth game of the season in which he’s left disappointed. The first was a 24-17 loss to Capital City back on Dec. 4 since he thought the team didn’t even want to be there. The next was a 57-24 loss to Clark County because he thought the Tigers played timidly. Then last Friday’s 47-28 loss to Hannibal because the game was never close.
This game joins that list because Friday should have ended with a Kirksville (10-11) win. The Tigers led nearly the whole game, almost going up by 10 in the third. But that lead eroded in the fourth as Kirksville started making mistakes against Fulton’s (3-12) press defense, which it had handled just fine up to then.
“We didn’t execute, we didn’t play mentally focused, we didn’t do the things we needed to do and we didn’t handle success very well from winning the other night,” Totta said. “We got out ahead and we felt like we’d just be able to build a lead and then it would be easy. Then throughout the game, when asked to do several things that involved focus, we just didn’t do it.
“We had a number of opportunities to extend the lead and put ourselves out front and we didn’t. We didn’t deserve to win. We have to be better.”
Kirksville led 35-33 and got the ball with about 1:30 left in the game. The Tigers wore almost a minute off the clock before Totta called timeout with 48.2 seconds left. The Tigers chewed some more clock before he called another timeout with 36.6 seconds to go.
He knew Fulton was going to foul, so he had his best free-throw shooters on the floor. Senior Elyse Johnson, who had a game-high 13 points, picked up the foul for a one-and-one and Totta was confident in her to make them. But Johnson missed and Fulton called a timeout to draw up its winning play.
Coming off Gowin’s 3-pointer, Kirksville turned the ball over and was forced to foul. Fulton’s Sydney Hedgepath knocked down both shots to make it a three-point game. Kirksville had 8.6 seconds to try and tie and the Tigers got the ball down in enough time, but couldn’t get a clean shot off before the buzzer.
Kirksville’s defense, as it has in many games this year, had the team in position for a win. Totta isn’t going to complain about holding an opposing team to 38 points. But his complaints start when the offense can’t get the job done.
“I thought our physical effort was good, but mentally, we don’t demand enough of ourselves,” Totta said. “We need to challenge ourselves to be more focused and more disciplined. I don’t know how to say it other than demand more of ourselves. We sometimes let ourselves off the hook and, ‘Oh well.’ You can’t do that when we don’t score the ball particularly well. We don’t have much margin for error. If we score easily, you can have some mistakes. We get to 40, we’ve got a chance.”