BELOIT - Last-second losses are difficult for any team to take.
For a Beloit Memorial girls team searching for just its second victory of the season, Saturday night's 46-43 loss against Madison West was especially painful.
The Purple Knights' lone victory of the year had come earlier this season on the road against the Regents, and by a comfortable margin at that.
There wasn't anything comfortable about Saturday night's loss.
Beloit came out of the gate slow, trailing 27-18 at halftime before a rather remarkable run to begin the second half.
Led by freshman Tajah Randall, the Knights scored the first 18 points of the second half to seemingly take control of the game.
"We came out with a lot more energy on defense in the second half," Drucker said. "And we also passed the ball way better, finding the open person and finishing at the rim. We really played as a team for that stretch."
The Regents didn't get their first bucket until 7:30 remained in the game. The basket cut the Knights' lead to 36-29, and kicked off a West run that would see them get as close as three points.
Randall hit a bucket with 3:20 left to restore a 40-35 lead for the Knights, but West rattled off the next five points, finally tying the game with 1:33 to play.
Terrayjanay Peppers nailed two free throws to give the Knights a 42-40 lead with 1:46 to play, but West immediately tied the game. Meghan Drucker split a pair of free throws with 1:07 to play, only to see West do the same thing nine seconds later. After a Beloit turnover, Eniya Driscoll, who finished with a game-best 20 points, hit a shot in the lane with 12 seconds left to give West the lead.
The Knights came up empty on the ensuing possession, and the Regents sunk a free throw with 2.6 seconds left to essentially seal the game.
"Losses like this are really hard to take," Drucker said. "We get blown out a lot, so we don't have a lot of experience playing in games like this. We just have to learn from this and hopefully we can finish the season strong."
Randall finished the game with 17 points to lead the Knights. Drucker added nine while Bre Davis scored seven. A major difference in the game occurred at the free throw stripe, where Beloit hit just 19-of-32, while the Regents shot 14-for-20.
Beloit will be back at the Barkin Friday night to host Madison Memorial.
• NOTES: Freshman forward Jackie Pabst had her own cheering section Saturday night. A group of around 25 purple-shirt wearing Pabst fans cheered her every move, including converted lay-ups in the pre-game warmups. Pabst scored one point and grabbed several rebounds for the Knights to the great delight of her fans.
MADISON WEST 46, BELOIT 43
Madison West..................27 19 - 46
Beloit Memorial.............. 18 25 - 43
MADISON WEST - Manke 1 1-2 3, Kettleson 2 0-0 4, Driscoll 6 8-15 20, Drury 3 1-2 6, Blehert 2 1-2 5, Sullivan 4 0-2 8. Totals 18 14-20 46.
BELOIT MEMORIAL - Drucker 3 3-8 9, Davis 2 3-6 7, Peppers 2 2-2 6, Pabst 0 1-2 1, Smith 1 1-2 3, Randall 4 9-12 17. Totals 12 19-32 43. 3-point goals - MW 1 (Drury 1), BM 0. Total fouls - MW 25, BM 22.