Having missed her five previous shots from behind the three-point line Wednesday, CNCC guard Carmellita Begay wasn't going to be deterred.
Trailing Central Wyoming College, 55-54, with 1:40 seconds left in the game, Begay locked, loaded and fired from downtown, draining the three-pointer and giving her team a lead it wouldn't relinquish.
The Begay trifecta ignited the CNCC offense, as the home team outscored Central, 13-4, in the final minutes, pulling out a 68-58 victory.
"The team really fought back and finished the game strong," Spartans coach Stephen Garnett said. "I'll tell you what, I'm really happy for this team. We haven't won in a while, so it's good to finally get that (win) off of our back."
The Spartans trailed, 32-31, at the halftime break, as each team had trouble finding any offensive rhythm.
Freshman Kelsey Samuelson paced the Spartans in the first half, contributing six points from the point guard spot, as well as finding teammates Amanda Brown (five pts.) and Danielle Jackson (six pts.) in the post.
The second half saw Central Wyoming go ahead by as many as six points, but the Spartans wouldn't let the visitors pull away.
Steady inside play by Craig resident Donna Look (14 points) helped pull CNCC within reach, until Begay's go-ahead basket.
"We just didn't do what we were supposed to do," Rustlers coach Serol Stauffenberg said. "We didn't shoot well, didn't rebound well and just didn't play well at the end, like you need to do to close out games."
The home-opening win was the first for the CNCC women's basketball program since the 2006 season, a victory that, in coach Garnett's eyes, has been a long time coming.
"I feel so proud of the team right now," he said. "It's been a long time, and we deserve this win. It's the best way to possibly start a season."
John Vandelinder can be reached at 875-1793 or email@example.com