PORTLAND - Mike Murphy, the girls' basketball coach at Deering High, asks only one thing of his players -- that they play hard and put in a full effort every day.
Friday night he got that -- and then some.
Marissa MacMillan scored the go-ahead basket with 57.8 seconds remaining, and Chelsea Saucier hit two clinching foul shots with 17.6 seconds left as the Rams knocked off previously unbeaten Cheverus 60-56 at Keegan Gymnasium.
Saucier was huge down the stretch, with six points in the final 2:33 and three assists in the fourth quarter, as Deering improved to 10-1. MacMillan scored five points in the fourth quarter despite playing the entire quarter with four fouls.
Cheverus dropped to 9-1.
"The kids really played hard," said Murphy. "And that's all we ask. Give us the effort. And it's nice when it pays off and we beat a good squad.
"It's a confidence thing for them. They believed. But to do it just solidifies it."
Deering's only loss this year came last Saturday at McAuley -- the only unbeaten team left in Western Class A.
This one was tight most of the way, although Deering took a 12-point lead early in the second quarter. The Stags fought back behind Brooke Flaherty on the inside and Georgia Ford on the perimeter to go ahead 32-30 before Deering's Alexis Stephenson hit a leaning 15-footer along the right baseline at the halftime buzzer to tie it.
It was tied at 45 entering the fourth quarter. Then it was tied four times in the fourth, the last at 56-56 when Flaherty scored off a back-door cut on a pass from Mikayla Mayberry with 1:16 remaining.
Then Saucier took over. The senior guard worked a give-and-go with MacMillan, finding the 6-foot-4 center inside for a lay-up with 57.8 seconds left to put the Rams ahead. MacMillan was fouled on the play but missed the free throw.
Saucier then was fouled after grabbing a defensive rebound, and she hit both free throws with 17.6 seconds left to make it 60-56.
"She means a lot to us," MacMillan said of Saucier. "She's just a really, really good leader for our team."
Deering's four senior starters came up huge: Stephenson led the Rams with 16 points, MacMillan had 15, Saucier scored 12 and Keneisha DiRamio had 11. Junior LeeAnn Downs contributed five points and some crucial defensive plays. It seemed every player had a big moment in the win.
"That's what we need," said Saucier. "In practice we bring it to the floor, make good decisions, don't force anything. Someone gets down, we bring them up. That's what it was like tonight."
For Cheverus, Ford had 18 points and Flaherty 17.
"It was a good game," said Cheverus Coach Richie Ashley. "Deering deserves the credit. They played hard, they played better than we did. We've got to play better, we've got to coach better, we've got to get better."
Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: