La PORTE — To have any remote chance of defending its Duneland Athletic Conference title, La Porte’s girls basketball team knew Friday night’s DAC tilt with visiting Merrillville was paramount. After already dropping their first two conference games, the Slicers could ill afford to suffer another loss.

Behind a collective performance, La Porte rebounded from a sluggish first half to outlast the Pirates 64-61 in an overtime thriller at Slicer Gym.

“It’s nice to get that first DAC win,” La Porte’s Riley Ott said. “Now we have the momentum going into our next one against Portage. I’m excited. Finally we won one.”

After trailing by as much as nine early in the third quarter, the Slicers seemed to be in trouble, but they regrouped, tying it midway through the third and taking their first lead halfway through the fourth. La Porte (6-3, 1-2 DAC) outscored Merrillville (4-4, 2-1 DAC) in overtime 12-8 to prevail.

“It’s really nice (to get contributions from numerous players),” Slicers coach Rob Walker said. “Riley Ott came up huge in overtime, but they did a great job guarding her in the first half. But Ryin (Ott) stepped up and hit some big shots in the first half, and so did Keatyn (Boren) to keep us close.”

Riley Ott tried to will her team to the comeback victory in the extra period.

She shook off a rough shooting night to pace her team offensively in overtime. She scored all but four of La Porte’s 12 OT points.

“(My mindset in overtime was) to win the game,” Riley Ott said. “We were up by one and we needed scoring, so I said, ‘It’s time to go. Time to win this game.’”

In a tie contest in overtime, Riley Ott’s driving basket gave the Slicers a 60-58 lead with 1:16 left. After the Pirates were forced to foul, Riley Ott made both free throws in the double bonus to make it 62-58 with 34.4 seconds remaining. Nyla Asad then had a front-court steal and a breakaway layup, sealing the win for La Porte. Merrillville made a meaningless 3-pointer at the buzzer.

“How about Nyla Asad’s steal toward the end?” Walker said. “That was big because they hit that 3. They didn’t want to go home.”

Ryin Ott guided La Porte with 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Riley Ott followed with 13 points, six steals, four boards and four assists. Boren had 10 points and Alanti Biggers and Kayla Jones each recorded eight. Biggers grabbed seven rebounds and Jones added four boards and four assists.

“Alanti Biggers came out there this game and it looked like she felt comfortable and was part of the flow, and getting used to the faster pace of the game,” Walker said. “That’s huge, because that adds another player we can feel confident in putting in the game right now.

“Keatyn is pretty tough down low. She guards well down there. She’s got a nice touch. It was a big game from her.”

Freshman Davina Smith led the Pirates with 19 points and Torri Miller netted 13.

After the Slicers were down eight at half and 32-23 early in the third, Biggers nailed a key trey to cut the margin to 34-31. Asad’s basket with 4:25 to go in the third knotted the game at 34. La Porte trailed 43-39 heading to the fourth.

In the final quarter, the Slicers responded to a 47-44 deficit with 4:21 left by reeling off an 8-3 run. Jones drilled a 3-pointer to give La Porte its first lead of the night at 49-47 with 3:08 to go. Boren also had a crucial basket in the lane to make it 51-50 Slicers with 49 seconds remaining. At the end of the spurt, La Porte led 52-50 after Jones split a pair from the charity stripe with 15 seconds left. That left the door open for Merrillville, who got Miller’s driving layup with seven seconds to go to force overtime at 52-52.

La Porte 64, Merrillville 61 (OT)

The Slicers’ Ryin Ott posted 19 points and Riley Ott 13.

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