Wilmington continually had success going inside to Brianna Peters on Saturday.
With the game on the line, the Quakers did it again.
Down 59-58 with the clock winding down, the Quakers worked the ball into the 6-foot senior post. Guarded by freshman Erin Sims, Peters went toward the basket, put the ball up and drew the foul with 2.7 seconds left. The shot missed, but the senior was headed to the line.
"We have this play designed, and all my teammates have to do what they have to do," Peters said. "If I don't have the ball, if I'm doubled, we know we can go to someone else. It was a big, big play."
After the game, Heidelberg coach Marcie Alberts said she was second-guessing her decision not to double Peters.
"If I had to do it differently, I think I'd put (Paige Ricketts) where she could double on (Peters)," Alberts said.
Peters, who was 7 of 9 from the foul line to that point, calmly connected on the ensuing free throw attempts. Wilmington led, 60-59.
Peters finished the game with 15 points and seven rebounds in 29 minutes.
"She's having a great year for us; she's playing like a senior is supposed to play," said Wilmington coach Jerry Scheve. "She made the big shots for us the end, made the huge free throws. I know that she's never been in that situation before, and to come through like that tonight was awesome."
Heidelberg still had a chance to win, and after a timeout by each team, Kyra Dorney found Sims at midcourt, who advanced the ball to Kathleen Phillips deep on the right wing. Phillips dribbled a few times and launched, but the shot, which bounced off the rim, came after the buzzer.
"(Phillips) should have caught and shot, and I've already talked to her about that," Alberts said. "We ran the play perfectly; we've worked on it in practice. Those are situations you have to put your kids in so when they're in them in a game, they are not panicked. We ran it exactly how we wanted to. (Phillips) caught it open."
It was a back and forth contest between perennial OAC power in Wilmington and a rapidly improving Heidelberg squad. The Princes started the game on a 7-0 run, punctuated by a Ricketts' 3. Wilmington responded with a 14-2 run, and led for most of the first half, taking a 30-21 advantage on a Peters' layup with 2:17 left.
But HU closed the gap with a 5-0 run before the break, then carried that momentum into the second half.
In what was probably Ricketts' best game of her career, the sophomore led the Princes on a 17-5 run right after halftime. The sophomore, who finished with 20 points, eight rebounds and three steals, had nine points during the stretch, including a trey from the left wing that put her team up 45-40 with 12:48 left. After another stop, Heidelberg's Megan Miller, a Columbian graduate who had missed her first eight shots, connected on a straight-away 3 to put HU up 43-35 with 12:15 left.
But the Quakers (8-3, 4-1 Ohio Athletic Conference) went on a 10-2 run over the next four and a half minutes to tie the game at 45.
The game continued to see-saw until Wilmington got a jumper from Haley Howard and a free throw from Shelby Kies to go up 56-51 with 3:31 left.
Heidelberg came right back. Jordan Ickes converted a three-point play, then Phillips was left open deep on the right wing. The 3-pointer put HU up 57-56 with 2:38 left, and the lead held for about a minute of game time, until Peters was fouled and made two free throws.
That set up Ricketts, who carved through the Wilmington defense for a layup with 1:15 left to put Heidelberg up again.
"I was just feeling it, so I tried as hard as I could to get (the shot) up," Ricketts said.
Alberts said Ricketts is starting to emerge as one of the program's best players.
"Last year she was our Energizer Bunny off the bench," Alberts said. "This year we expect her to be the the Energizer Bunny from the opening tip to the final buzzer. She did it today."
After a few fruitless possessions, Heidelberg had a chance to increase its lead in the final half minute, but Sims missed a jumper with 14 seconds left. Wilmington got the rebound, setting up the final sequences.
Alberts said while attention always is paid to the final moments, those alone did not decide the game.
"There's so many plays throughout the game that were the difference in the game," Alberts said. "A lot of them were very minor and little things that we needed to do better. The good thing is that everything is correctable."
Phillips had 14 points, seven boards, three assists and two steals for Heidelberg (5-6, 1-4). Ickes had nine points. Sims had four blocks.
"I feel like today, we gave it our all until the end, until the buzzer," Ricketts said. "That's what coaches ask for, just giving it your all on the court. I think that's what we did tonight."
Wilmington's Leann Topp scored 13 points with seven rebounds, while Kies had 10 points.