Ahn Hye-ji’s ‘Drama Ending Winning Shot’ Was a Foul-Free Pressing Defense
A dramatic game-winning shot with 3.6 seconds left in regulation was the difference between the two teams. National guard Ahn Hye-ji (26) of the WKBL’s Busan BNK Thumb saved her team with a sensational steal and a thrilling basket in the clutch.
BNK won 59-58 at home against the Yongin Samsung Life Blooms in the second round of the 2023-2024 Woori WON Women’s Professional Basketball League at Sajik Indoor Gymnasium in Busan on Monday. With the win, BNK snapped a three-game losing streak and earned its first win in three home games.
Since the end of the first round, BNK has been on a bad run. They lost 70-80 at home to Samsung Life on the 16th, and lost ace Kim Han-byul to injury. They then lost three straight games against KB on the 20th (62-83) and Hana OneQ on the 25th (54-63). The loss to Hana WonQ, which had only one win of the season before the matchup, was particularly shocking.
However, BNK took control of the game from the start, as coach Park Jung-jeong said, “It depends on how much we dominate in the beginning.” After Lee So-hee hit a three-pointer on the opening possession, BNK went on a 21-10 run to end the first quarter with a 34-31 lead.
At one point, the team struggled to keep up with Samsung Life, especially after giving up back-to-back three-pointers to opposing guard Shin Seul, and the gap widened in the fourth quarter as Kim Dan-bi, Shin Seul, and Yoon Ye-bin played well. However, BNK’s offense came alive when Ahn Hye-ji needed it, and back-to-back baskets from Lee So-hee and Jin An brought the score to 58-57 with just over a minute left in the quarter.
BNK had a crucial chance just before the end of the game. Bae Hye-yoon was fouled and after a video review, the call was upheld, giving her two free throws. However, Jin An made both free throws and Samsung Life got the rebound, and Bae Hye-yoon took the ball to start the offense. However, Ahn Hye-ji came out of nowhere to steal the ball from Bae Hye-yoon, drive to the basket, and beat the defense for a layup. It was the decisive point with just 3.6 seconds left. BNK completed the upset with a last-ditch defense.
Ahn Hye-ji, who scored the game-winning basket, had eight points and 11 rebounds on the night, setting a new career-high in rebounds. “I think it’s good that we broke the losing streak, and it was a tough time, but we stuck together and got a good result,” he said after the game. “(Jinan) kissed me and said thank you,” he laughed, adding, “I also thanked the players.”
“I thought it was right to play aggressive defense because we didn’t have time,” Ahn Hye-ji said, explaining, “I saw (Bae) Hye-yoon controlling the ball, so I thought about it and went out, and it worked.” “Even the bench said, ‘Foul,’ so I was aggressive,” she continued.
In fact, Ahn Hye-ji had seven turnovers on the night, which were behind her high rebounding total and final score. “I had a lot of turnovers today, so I said, ‘Let’s make up for it with something else,’ and that was rebounds,” she said with a sigh of relief. I think it worked out,” he breathed a sigh of relief.
After the game, Park Jung-jeong said, “The players did a good job of executing our preparation, so we got a good start. I want to praise the players. It could have been bad in the game, but the players were focused, and it was a victory that we all prepared for and hoped for, not just one person.” Samsung Life coach Lim Geun-bae said, “(Bae) Hye-yoon lacked concentration at the end, which is not like a veteran. She must be blaming herself,” he said.