By Clinton Dick
Brett Bates, senior guard, launched a half court shot that ricocheted off of the top of the backboard at the buzzer in Monday night’s championship game in Park City. The Lady Builders fell to the Sterling College Lady Warriors 62-61 at Hartman Arena. The game was a shot for Southwestern to win their first ever Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference women’s basketball title and earn an automatic bid to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics national tournament in Sioux City, Iowa.
Friends University and Sterling College are the two KCAC schools with automatic bids to the tournament. Southwestern can earn a berth to the tournament through an at-large bid.
The Lady Builders struggled immensely shooting the ball, hitting just 20 of 72 shots from the field. Their woes were not aided any from the three-point line, where the team connected on six of 29 shots. They hit two of 16 shots from beyond the arch in the second half.
The shooting issues began early for both teams. At the 6:40 mark, Southwestern had hit six of 27 shots and Sterling five of 20. The Lady Builders shook off the slow start and finished the first half strong, scoring on four consecutive possessions before Bates knocked down two free throws to give her team a 31-25 lead.
The Lady Warriors mounted a comeback fresh out of the locker rooms. With 16:52 remaining, Megan Patrick, senior forward, hit a basket to give Sterling their first lead since early in the first half at 34-33. Kinsley Hilst, junior forward, hit a three point shot following Patrick’s basket to cap off a 12-2 sterling run.
Zefiryn Bryan, sophomore forward, made two back-to-back baskets and the Lady Builders regained the lead with 11:25 remaining in the game 44-41. Following those baskets, the team hit another dry spell shooting and the Lady Warriors took advantage, going on another 12-2 run that put them up 53-46 with 7:46 on the clock.
Sterling maintained their seven-point lead until Bates made a shot driving in and was fouled with 2:25 remaining. She hit her free throw to complete the three-point play and narrow the lead to 60-56.
With 1:23 left to play, Kaitlin Tennyson, sophomore guard, forced a turnover and Brittney Chamberlin, junior guard, attempted a three-point basket that went in and out. The Lady Builders didn’t score again until the 41.9 second mark when Tennyson hit a shot from beyond the arch. The play made it a one-possession game at 62-59.
Kelly Curtis, senior guard, missed her shot on Sterling’ s next possession as the shot clock winded down and Southwestern rebounded the ball with 8.4 seconds remaining. After a timeout, Herman was fouled intentionally and was sent to the line. Herman sunk both free throws, and the Lady Builders immediately fouled on the ensuing inbound. Lori Daur, freshman forward, missed the front end of the one and one and Bates was given the ball upon the Southwestern rebound, where she missed the Hail Mary shot.
Bates led the team in scoring with 14 points. She hit four of 17 shots from the field and just one out of eight from the three-point line. Curtis led all scorers with 17 points for the Lady Warriors.
Clinton Dick is a junior majoring in convergent journalism. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.