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The way Evanston shoots free throws, the Wildkits will win a lot of close games this season.
For the second time this week, No. 14 Evanston was almost automatic from the stripe in its 45-36 win over New Trier at Northwestern’s Welsh-Ryan Arena on Thursday.
“We do shoot some in practice, but I think success builds on success,” Evanston coach Elliot Whitefield said. “When you’re making free throws down the stretch, you become more confident.”
Evanston finished 15-for-18 from the line, including 8-for-11 in the final eight minutes. In the team’s 54-50 win against No. 2 Trinity on Tuesday, the Wildkits (13-0 overall, 5-0 Central Suburban South) were 13-for-21. Junior guard Seara Clayborn was 7-for-8 in the fourth.
Against the Trevians, it was Dashae Shumate who delivered. The junior guard scored seven points, but she went 5-for-6 from the line in the fourth.
“Free throws are so important when the game goes down to the wire,” said Shumate, who played in her first rivalry game after transferring from Niles West. “That could always be the difference in a win or a loss.”
Evanston led 19-18 at the half, but the Wildkits opened up a 33-25 lead, thanks to Alecia Cooley’s big third. The 6-foot-2 senior center scored eight of her game-best 16 in the quarter.
But Cooley also was the reason why New Trier (8-4, 2-3) was able to come back early in the fourth. After committing her third foul, she was whistled for a technical right after it for something she said to a referee.
The Trevians made three free throws to get within one, 37-36, with 5:46 to go, but they were frozen from the field the rest of way, failing to make a basket.
“I told the girls I’m proud of them, but I am not satisfied,” New Trier coach Teri Rodgers said. “That was a winnable game for us.”
New Trier junior guard Isabella Bosco scored a team-high 10 in the loss.