OLD WESTBURY, N.Y. — Tiara Place wasn't the first option for the NYIT women's basketball team. She turned out the best option.
Place, a junior forward, drove left and hit a layup just before the buzzer as NYIT stunned Adelphi, 55-54, on Sunday at Recreation Hall on the second day of the ECC/NE-10 Challenge.
"The play was originally supposed to be for Nina [Vukosavljevic]," Place said, referring to the ECC Preseason Player of the Year. "But he said if Nina doesn't have it, just go to the basket and whatever happens, happens."
What happened is that NYIT (1-1), which trailed by as many as 12 points in the second half, produced a sweet victory. The Bears had defeated Adelphi in last season's opener in the ECC/NE-10 Challenge, but the Panthers turned the table and ousted NYIT in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
The buzzer sounded after Place's layup. However, the officials reset the clock to 0.8 seconds. With Adelphi out of timeouts, it was unable to advance the ball past halfcourt and instead had to inbound the ball on its baseline. The Panthers then committed an offensive foul and never inbounded the ball anyway.
"It's amazing," said Place, who finished with a modest four points on 2-for-13 shooting. "Coming from a bad shooting game and making the winning shot, it's a great feeling at the end of the game."
NYIT trailed by as many as 12 points in the second half, but a 15-4 run — capped by consecutive three-pointers from Vukosavljevic and Shalie Frierson — pulled the Bears within a point at 41-40.
The Bears caught the Panthers at 51 apiece when Frierson sank a pair of free throws with 3:47 to play.
Down 54-53 with 16.9 seconds remaining, NYIT regained possession after a shot-clock violation by Adelphi. However, Vukosavljevic was called for a charge with 10.3 seconds to play while driving for the would-be game-winning basket.
NYIT got a second chance when Adelphi's Emily Miccile missed a pair of free throws with 7.6 seconds to go. Then Place converted for the win.