SYCAMORE – Kaneland attempted just 12 free throws in Friday’s Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference East Division game at Sycamore.
The Spartans, on the other hand, shot 36 free throws, making 23 of them.
Despite the free-throw differential, the Knights actually led Sycamore most of the game, and Knights senior Brooke Harner’s free throw with 39 seconds left in regulation sent the contest into overtime.
But the Spartans’ free-throw onslaught continued in overtime, as Sycamore got a big 49-48 conference win.
Kaneland (12-8, 4-4 NI Big 12 East) coach Ernie Colombe didn’t blame the officiating, instead giving credit to the Sycamore (9-8, 2-4 NI Big 12 East) guards, such as freshman Lauren Goff, who finished with 16 points and made 11 of 15 free throws.
Colombe said that in the end, the game came down to the free-throw line.
“I think the big lesson tonight was, we can’t reach as much as we were. I thought some of those calls were tough, but they were very consistent tonight from start to finish. When you really break this down, it’s a 49-48 game,” Colombe said. “Like I said,  to 12 free throws. On the varsity level, if you shoot  free throws you should come out ahead, and we put them there.
“They earned it. I thought their guards played really well.”
Allyson O’Herron led the Knights with 12 points, hitting four 3-pointers and scoring the first six points of the game. Harner added 11 points for Kaneland, while Caroline Heimerdinger finished with eight and Emma Bradford added six.
O’Herron was the Knights’ leading scorer despite picking up her second foul in the first quarter and sitting on the bench most of the first half.
Colombe said losing O’Herron was tough after seeing her catch fire early, but added he has plenty of confidence in players such as Heimerdinger, who came off the bench to score some big points.
In the end, losing a player such as O’Herron was just one of many aspects in the Knights’ close loss, Colombe said.
“That was a factor, but certainly I don’t think it was a deciding factor,” Colombe said. “I thought it was our inability to play defense with our feet.”
The Spartans trailed the first three quarters before outscoring Kaneland, 11-8, in the fourth. Sycamore coach Brett Goff thought his team was aggressive with the ball and just played with patience.
“We weren’t pulling the trigger easy. We were waiting,” he said. “Instead of a good look, we were getting a great look. Taking the ball to the basket worked for us. We just kept doing it.”