Coach Keith DeVoe had asked Williams to prepare for such a situation in practice last week, and the move paid off in a 43-42 overtime win. The post player-turned-floor general scored 19 of her season-high 23 points after halftime, including a pair of free throws with 1.2 seconds left that put the Tigers ahead.
It was DuVal’s first ever win over Wise, and the loss closed a down year for the Upper Marlboro power, ending its three-year reign as region champion. After two straight Maryland 4A state final appearances, the young Pumas finished 10-10.
“I told her it was do or die,” DeVoe said of Williams. “I said, ‘If we don’t win tonight it’s the end of your high school career.’ She kinda put the team on her back at the end of that game.”
Wise had beaten DuVal (9-13) twice in the regular season, most recently 30-29 on Feb. 5, but this time, Williams proved the difference. Only 5-foot-8, she nonetheless prefers to stay in the post, but she stepped out of her comfort zone to keep the Tigers’ season alive.
At the end of regulation, it was a defensive play by Williams that extended the game. DuVal turned the ball over in the backcourt with about 10 seconds left in a tie game and Williams raced down to the other end to contest the breakaway layup and then grab the rebound.
Williams scored five of DuVal’s eight points in the extra period, winning the game at the free throw line. She took the ball the length of the court with eight seconds left and drew a blocking foul before stepping up to drain both foul shots.
Williams, who shoots 59 percent on free throws for the season, went 6 for 6 at the line on Friday. The pressure-packed shots helped clinch a victory that holds special significance for DeVoe, who was a former assistant at DuVal under current Wise Coach Walter Clark.
A year after winning just four games, DuVal advances to play second-seeded C.H. Flowers in Monday’s second round. The Jaguars beat the Tigers, 69-25, in the opening game of the season.
“We have to keep our composure,” said DeVoe, who joined the staff at the Lanham school in 1997. “We know from years past and the first game of the season that they’ll come after us with the pressure. This is one of the better Flowers teams I’ve seen [under] Coach [Patrice] Frazier-Watson.”