CEDAR CITY -- Sophomore guard Cassie Burgess grabbed her only offensive rebound of night and hit a five-foot jump shot with 0.5 seconds left to guide Southern Utah's women's basketball team past Utah Valley in a bizarre 94-92 3OT thrilling victory inside the Centrum Arena Saturday night.
The Wolverines used a 4-0 run in the first two minutes of the third overtime period to build an 88-84 lead, but Burgess then converted the Thunderbirds' next two possessions into five points with a layup and free throws to give SUU an 89-88 lead with two minutes left in the period.
After UVU made an easy layup to take a 90-89 lead, freshman guard Jadie Parsons drilled a 3-pointer from the left wing of the court to give the T-Birds a 92-90 advantage with 1:29 left.
After both teams exchanged turnovers, the Wolverines tied the game with a layup by senior forward Julie Smith with 27 seconds left.
With the shot clock off, Burgess brought the ball up the court and missed a 15-foot jump shot with three seconds left, but then followed the miss with an offensive rebound, which freed her from her defender and gave her a wide-open opportunity for the game-winning shot.
However, it was what led to the overtime sessions that created the biggest stir.
SUU's Parsons hit what was believed to be the game-winning shot with 0.5 seconds left in regulation to give the T-Birds a 71-69 victory over the Wolverines.
UVU then attempted a half-court three-point shot, but it was waived off because the final buzzer went off before the shot.
However, the game officials huddled together while the SUU players celebrated a win and assessed the T-Birds a technical foul before the ball was inbounded. It was determined by the referees that several of the players had left the bench after Parsons' shot in a premature celebration.
"We all ran out to tell them to get off (the court)," SUU Head Coach JR Payne said. "But, (the officials) did not confer at all, they just came over with the answer and it was an obvious call, but apparently when the buzzer has sounded you cannot make the call because the game in officially over. So, the game should have been over."
Wolverine sophomore guard Jenna Johnson then converted both technical free throw shots to tie the game at 71 and both teams headed to overtime.
In the first two overtime periods, UVU missed chances to steal a victory away from the T-Birds and were unable to take advantage of possessing the last shot.
In the first overtime, Wolverine senior guard Asumi Nakayama was unable to get off a shot. After SUU's Parsons drained a pair of free throws to tie the game at 84-84 with 13 seconds left in the second overtime session, Nakayama missed a shot with four seconds remaining and the teams went into third overtime before the T-Birds picked up the victory.
Payne said she hoped her players would learn from the technical foul mistake.
"It's a learning experience, when we're in the big games (and close games) at later on this year, we'll remember not to run on the floor," Payne said. "We needed the extra conditioning anyways."
The game ended as the longest game in SUU history and the first ever to go into three overtimes.
Junior guard Caitlyn Sears led all T-Bird players with 25 points in the win, while Burgess finished with 20 points. 11 of Burgess' points came in the overtime periods and seven of those were scored in the final overtime session.
Parsons added 14 points, while junior forward Challis Pascucci chipped in with 14 points and a game-high 15 rebounds.
"Everybody stepped up, the crowd stepped up… it was good energy and we picked each other up," Sears said. "We had to stay on our toes and say ‘defense wins games' and everybody stayed up and everyone picked each other up."
Burgess said she felt like the energy was so high that anyone of her teammates could have hit the game-winning shot.
"I think all of us felt that confidence in ourselves that if we had the ball, we knew we were going to be aggressive because we just built it on each other and helped each other out," Burgess said. "I think whoever had that ball last would've made that shot.
Smith led UVU with a game-high and career-high 31 points and overcame a hard foul that knocked her out of a lengthy chunk of the second half. Smith was on a fast-break and landed on her head after being fouled by T-Bird freshman forward Tayler Anderson.
SUU has now won three of its last four games after starting the season 0-6 and will return to the court with an exhibition game against Westminster next week before heading to Colorado. Tip-off against the Griffins in slated for 7 p.m. Thursday inside the Centrum Arena.