PARK HILLS – A steady comeback from 15 points down was nearly completed when the Mineral Area women reached the precipice of getting an enormous defensive stop.
Iowa Western guard Binta Salawu fumbled a pass toward the midcourt logo with two seconds remaining on the shot clock, and her only recourse was to turn and unleash a 30-foot heave.
But the improbable shot was directly on target for her lone made field goal on Wednesday evening, and the Reivers suddenly enjoyed some extra breathing room with a five-point advantage.
Mineral Area developed a chance to force overtime. Keanna Williams raised her head in frustration when her final 3-point try bounced off the rim, and Iowa Western prevailed 59-56.
Aubriana Noti totaled 17 points with 14 rebounds, and Kiara Dallmann finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds as the Reivers relied heavily on their 6-foot-2 post players.
Sommer Blakemore added 12 points, and landed a driving layup as Iowa Western (11-7) established its largest lead of 36-21 early in the third quarter.
Mineral Area (12-5) suffered its first loss in eight home games this season, but not without presented a better challenge than its 19-point November defeat in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
After struggling to generate any consistent offense inside of 15 feet in the first half, the Lady Cardinals were much more successful during a sudden 10-2 run.
Masyn McWilliams twice powered off the dribble for layups after hitting a turning baseline shot, and Holly Forbes muscled in another basket to bring MAC within 38-31.
Despite being held scoreless through the first 24 minutes of action, Forbes recorded the ninth double-double of her sophomore season with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Natalia Lalic tallied a team-high 15 points for Mineral Area. She drained a deep 3-pointer and split two free throws to cap a 17-5 run and make it 41-38.
Iowa Western restored a 49-40 lead on baskets by Dallmann and Blakemore to open the fourth quarter, but 18 turnovers prevented the visitors from ever pulling away.
The Lady Cards countered with a 7-0 spurt that Forbes punctuated on a left-handed layup with 6:02 to play, and crept within one possession of a potential tie of lead four different times.
Forbes scored on a lob from Caitlyn Holmes for a 51-49 margin with 2:16 remaining, but Salawu drilled her pivotal 3-pointer on the next trip down.
Williams converted a layup and free throw with 49 seconds left, bringing Mineral Area within 56-54, and McWilliams made it 57-56 on a baseline jumper that followed a Forbes offensive rebound.
Dallmann added two clutch free throws for the Reivers, who then covered Lalic along the perimeter as Williams became isolated for the final shot.
McWiliams ended with 11 points, and Williams totaled nine points and five assists. Mineral Area returns to Region 16 action while hosting Crowder on Saturday.
The Lady Cardinals committed just eight turnovers in defeat, but shot a miserable 24 percent prior to halftime. Lalic gave them a brief 11-10 lead with a 3-pointer.
Noti answered by catching a lob pass and scoring amid a crowd, and Dallmann hit a runner off an outlet pass in the second quarter to complete a 11-0 surge.
Iowa Western posted a 15-6 scoring edge in the second quarter, and entered halftime leading 31-17 after E’Ayra Davis and Blakemore sank 3-pointers.