Ke'Asia Williams hit 5 of 6 free throw attempts in the final 1:43, and the Rudder Lady Rangers held off Bryan for a 39-32 nondistrict victory Tuesday at Viking Gym.
Williams also assisted on two baskets to close out the game, including a long pass down court to set up Ebony James for a score.
"Obviously late in the ball game, we like the ball in Ke'Asia Williams' hands," Rudder coach Michael Stenseth said. "At one time, that's what I was fussing at her about. She needs to go get the ball, because she had already made four or five free throws in a row."
The win sent Rudder (4-3) into the Thanksgiving break with a record over .500, while the Lady Vikings will finally get a break. Bryan (7-5) has played eight games over the last seven days.
The lead changed nine times in the opening half, but Rudder never lost it after taking a 13-12 lead on a step-back baseline shot from Ty McGee with 4:50 left in the second quarter. Williams had assists on three of Rudder's next four baskets, including a hustling bucket by James with 0:03 remaining.
"Defensively, we do that," Stenseth said. "Offensively, sometimes we're going to make a play that we think is there, and it's really not. Until they see it, it's going to be a turnover, but defense keeps us in the ball game and making free throws in the clutch."
Bryan's defense, led by the high-pressure, full court play of Penny Watson, limited Rudder to fewer shots, but the Lady Rangers shot better. They hit 14 of 35 from the floor.
Watson, who set up more roadblocks than the construction crew on nearby Briarcrest Drive, had eight steals, but the Lady Vikings missed on too many shots, especially the short ones.
"I'm proud of the effort, which was really good," Bryan coach Beth Jesurun said. "I know the kids are tired. We've played eight games in seven days. I like to do that at the beginning of the season, so that we get mentally tougher and get ready for district, but it was an awful lot of games."
Bryan hit just 13 of 61 from the field, and the Lady Vikings did not help their cause at the free-throw line, either, sinking 6 of 20.
"Obviously, we're going to have to shoot the ball better from the line and from the floor," Jesurun said. "The kids played hard, and you've got to give Rudder credit."
Alysia Hall led Bryan with 11 points and 11 rebounds. She battled inside with Rudder's Qui Johnson, who scored four points but got her best look on an 15-foot jump shot that gave the Lady Rangers their largest lead of the game at 27-19 in the third quarter.
McGee led Rudder with 17 points. Williams scored 12 and also provided some relief from Bryan's pressure defense with her spinning drives into the lane.
Bryan did not score a second-half point until 3:54 remained in the third period, when Alex Sims sank a free throw and Watson followed with a nice jumper from the left baseline to narrow Rudder's lead to 25-19. A steal and bucket from Bryan's Ronzasha Taylor and a late Jordan Lopez-Rhodes jumper narrowed Rudder's lead to 28-24 as the quarter ended.
On two occasions, Bryan cut Rudder's lead to two. Keosha Lee set up Hall for a bucket and Alondriah Brown knocked down a bank shot with 4:41 left as the Lady Vikings closed to 30-28.
Sims scored four points for Bryan but fouled out with 4:20 left. Brown also fouled out.
Rudder 39, Bryan 32
RUDDER (4-3) -- Stephanie Deutschke 0 0-0 2 0; Ebony James 3 0-0 2 6; Ty McGee 6 5-8 3 17; Kyandra Greene 0 0-0 2 0; Ke'Asia Williams 3 6-11 2 12; Qui Johnson 2 0-1 3 4; Anna Norris 0 0-0 1 0; Treashton Thompson 0 0-0 2 0. Totals: 14 11-20 18 39.
BRYAN (7-5) -- Alex Sims 1 2-6 5 4; Jordan Lopez-Rhodes 1 0-0 0 2; Kia White 1 1-3 3 3; Penny Watson 4 0-2 4 8; Aldondriah Brown 1 0-0 5 2; Ronzasha Taylor 1 0-3 1 2; Alysia Hall 4 3-6 2 11. Totals: 13 6-20 20 32.
Rudder 9 11 8 11 -- 39
Bryan 10 6 8 8 -- 32