Thrilling finish in season finale
The cheers from the rival Citrus College crowd rang out from the stands as Aniese Palmore missed one free throw after another.
But none of that would matter, as she would put the team on her back and stand tall with the pressure at its highest.
Palmore buried a three-pointer with 9.6 seconds remaining in the game, which effectively sealed the Santa Monica College women's basketball team's 46-45 victory over the Citrus College Owls in the final game of the season.
The once boisterous opposing crowd was forced into silence.
"Aniese is our horse out there on the court; she holds us together," said head coach Lydia Strong.
Despite missing her free throws, Palmore's confidence was still high, andshe let the ball fly.
"I saw a big switched out on me, so I took the shot," said Palmore.
Palmore led all scorers with 18 points, pulled down 12 rebounds, and dished out four assists while playing solid defense. She shot 50 percent from the three-point line, and no shot was bigger than the one at the end.
"I'm glad I made it; I had to redeem myself for missing all those free throws," said Palmore.
The road victory was an impressive one for a team that has struggled all season. The Lady Corsairs came into Saturday night's game on a two-game losing streak, dropping their final home game on sophomore night.
To add to their woes, the Lady Corsairs were without three key players, leaving them shorthanded and giving them a serious size disadvantage.
Despite the challenges they faced, they put on, perhaps, their most inspired performance of the season, out-toughing the Owls in a game that was physical from the start, including three technical fouls and a few near altercations.
Already adding to the emotionally charged atmosphere was an unusual incident that occurred late in the second half.
With 1:35 left in the game, and SMC ahead 42-41, Citrus guard Sarah Rebibo and SMC guard Kierra Jackson were involved in a dust-up that led to double fouls.
Rebibo stepped to the free throw line and knocked down both shots. There was only one problem. Rebibo had picked up her fifth foul on the play and should have fouled out.
"I made sure I went over to the scorers' table, and told them it was a correctable error," said Strong.
The referees huddled near midcourt and conferred on what to do, and the crowd's discontent was audible.
After several minutes and discussions with the head coaches from both teams, Rebibo's free throws were taken away and play resumed.
"It was a good win; our sophomores got to go out on top," said Strong.
With most players being freshmen, the majority are expected to return next year.
"I'm coming back, and rebounding and turnovers are the major things we need to work on," said Palmore.