MIDDLETOWN, Pa. – During the 2013-14 campaign, Penn State Harrisburg women's basketball player Kiara Carter (Bronx, N.Y. / Milton Hershey) embodied the old adage "what a difference a year makes." Her freshman season saw her make sporadic appearances off the bench in hopes of giving some of the Lions' post players a breather. As a sophomore, a rest was something she seldom got. Carter cemented herself as a starter early in the fall of 2013 while her production more than doubled in the points-per-game and rebounds-per-game category over the course of the year.
As impressive as all that was, nothing was more memorable than her 19 point, 21 rebound performance that included an overtime buzzer-beater that extended the ladies' matchup with Penn State Altoona; a game the Blue & White won 84-78 in double overtime on Dec. 1. Carter's big day comes in at number eight on our list of Penn State Harrisburg's top ten moments of the 2013-14 season.
Carter set the stage for what was to come when she scored the contest's opening basket and six of Penn State Harrisburg's first eight points. She hit back-to-back buckets to give the Lions an 18-10 lead with 10:50 remaining in the first half. Her strong play in the early going sparked her teammates and allowed the Blue & White to take a 39-25 advantage into halftime.
Credit the opposing Lions for making the necessary adjustments during the break. Altoona limited Carter to just two points in the second half and clawed back into the ballgame, erasing the double-digit deficit and tying the game at 56 with 2:13 left to play. Two 20 minute halves weren't enough to settle this one and the teams headed to overtime knotted at 59.
Altoona nabbed its first lead of the afternoon when play resumed and scored the first four points of OT. Penn State Harrisburg fought back and Carter's layup tied things up at 63 with 3:26 left on the clock. The visitors faced a two-point deficit with a minute to go but managed to score twice in the final 60 seconds, including a layup off an outlet pass that left just 1.1 seconds on the clock. After a long inbound pass and timeout advanced the ball to midcourt for the Lions, only 0.8 remained. Trailing 72-70, things looked bleak for the Blue & White.
And then Carter played hero.
The sophomore received the inbound pass from junior Miranda Zeanchock (Carrolltown, Pa. / Cambria Heights), took one dribble and threw up a shot from the baseline.
The horn sounded. The ball rattled around the rim…and through the net.
The referees conferred. The decision? Shot good. The game-saving basket pushed the contest to a second extra-session.
The final five minute period belonged to Penn State Harrisburg. Zeanchock knocked down a basket that gave the Lions the lead for good and Carter hit a layup that padded the advantage at 78-75. Altoona fouled as the seconds ticked away and the ladies converted their free throws down the stretch. It was fitting that Carter hit the last foul shot, and point of the game, to make it 84-78; a score that would hold as the final buzzer sounded.
The thrilling victory was one of Penn State Harrisburg's most exciting contests across all sports and Carter's 19 tallies and 21 boards were both game-highs. It was the third of her seven double-doubles of the 2013-14 campaign. She finished the season as the team's leader in rebounds-per-game with a 9.4 average; a number good enough to rank her fourth in the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC). For her efforts this past season, Carter was named Penn State Harrisburg's women's basketball Most Valuable Player.
Be sure to check back later as we continue counting down Penn State Harrisburg's top ten moments of the 2013-14 season. Next, we highlight another young lady's outstanding effort on a different type of court…one that ended in record-breaking fashion…