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Free throws, turnovers cost Lady Tigers opening round at Emerald Coast Classic

By By BRUCE HIXON – Sports Editor
One could hardly blame T.R. Miller Lady Tigers coach Ron Jackson for a feeling of helplessness.
After all, a coach cannot step on the floor and shoot free throws or handle the ball for his/her club.
Instead Jackson only watch the miscues in both areas finally catch up with his club in Thursday's 41-39 loss to the Niceville (Fla.) Lady Eagles in the opening round of the Emerald Coast Classic at Fort Walton Beach (Fla.).
The game was a rematch of last year's championship game won by T.R. Miller 40-34 in overtime.
Scheduling is among the least of Jackson's early season concerns after his team turned the ball over 22 times and hit just five of 19 free throws against Niceville. In fact, through two games T.R. Miller has had 42 turnovers and hit just 13 of 35 foul shots (37 percent).
The Lady Tigers got 17 points from Joy McCorvey and 15 from Jasmine Sanford, but just seven from the rest of its lineup.
Even though Niceville's biggest lead was only six points, T.R. Miller fought an uphill battle throughout the game.
The Lady Eagles used a pair of hoops from Danielle Cambell and a three-pointer by Jasmine Jordan to surge ahead 11-5 in the opening quarter.
After a slow start, the T.R. Miller defense stiffened and allowed just two field goals and six points total over the last 10 minutes of the first half.
The Lady Tigers pulled even with just over two minutes left in the first half when Sanford turned a steal into a layup to tie the game at 15-17. T.R. Miller then took its first lead since the opening moments of the game on the ensuing possession when Keya Peterson scored on a fastbreak to put the Lady Tigers up 17-15.
Niceville knotted the score at 17-17 just before halftime and then moved back in front early in the third quarter when a pair of free throws and field goals by Amy Drake and Cambell put Niceville up 23-19.
A basket by McCorvey late in the third quarter by McCorvey brought T.R. Miller even headed into the final frame, but once again the Lady Tigers were unable to get over the hump.
Niceville got a key three-pointer by Drake and two free throws by Jordan to take a 39-34 lead with 59 seconds left.
T.R. Miller got a big three-point play with 44 seconds left when McCorvey hit the first of two free throws, missed the second, but Sanford got the offensive rebound and scored to make it 39-37.
Jordan missed two free throws with 34 seconds left that opened the door for Sanford to tie the game with a drive to the bucket with 23 seconds left.
With 16 seconds left, Jordan was fouled and this time she hit both free throws to put the Lady Eagles up 41-39.
T.R. Miller had a chance to tie the game when Sanford was fouled with :01.2 left. Sanford missed the first and then tried to miss the second on purpose in hope of an offensive rebound bucket, but that hope also came up empty.
The Lady Tigers return home Tuesday where they host Northview (Fla.) at 5:30 p.m.
At Forth Walton Beach
T.R. Miller 9 8 12 10 – 39
Niceville 11 6 12 12 – 41
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) McCorvey 7-0-3-17; Sanford 7-0-1-15; Watson 1-0-1-3; Peterson 1-0-0-2; Scott 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 17-0-5-39)
NICEVILLE (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Drake 4-1-3-14; Jordan 0-1-5-8; Cambell 3-0-2-8; Ellis 2-0-1-5; Sweetland 2-0-0-4; Crews 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 12-2-11-41)