By Sam Jones
The Southwestern Lady Builder Basketball team has had their stay in the NAIA Nationals Tournament cut short by the University of Saint Francis this afternoon.
The Lady Builders (22-9) fell 65-51 at the hands of the Saint Francis Cougars (23-9) at Tyson Events Center, in Sioux City, Iowa.
The Builders got off to a slow start, going down 19-9 after eight minutes, but then they clawed their way back to 19-17 through diligent defense and ruthless capitalization on offensive opportunities.
The Lady Builders first took the lead at 15 minutes with a two-point shot from Tiffany Reiger, sophomore guard, to make it 22-24.
Southwestern then held their lead until halftime, going into the sheds up by one point, with the scores at 27-28.
The second half started and the Cougars came out firing, going on a scoring run of 20-8, increasing their lead over Southwestern to 50-36.
“I think the second half we just came out a little slow and they shot it really well to start it off and so they took the lead and we struggled to recover,” said Reiger.
The Lady Builders’ attack wasn’t sticking as it had throughout the season, and it was difficult to regain the momentum that they took into halftime.
“We wouldn’t have done anything differently. We keyed on their two post players, knew we had to rebound well, knew we had to keep them with limited opportunities, and we did a really good job of that in the first half, but got a little bit away from that in the second half because we were frustrated offensively but for the most part, we felt like we had a pretty sound game plan,” said Whitney Corley, women’s assistant basketball coach.
The final score from a valiant Lady Builders outfit was 65-51, which sees Saint Francis progress to face Tennessee Weslayen (28-3)
“It was very frustrating because we knew that we could play so much better and we could shoot so much better than we did,” said Reiger.
Jana Reichenberger, junior forward, and Reiger led the scoring, with 15 points each, followed by Jordan Hobbs, senior guard, who totaled eight.
Reichenberger also led the rebounding totals with 12, followed by next best Catherine Cranmer, junior guard, with six.
“I’m sad for my seniors that are through. They’ve been here since I’ve been here, and I’m just sad, but proud of where we gotten, because we fought through a lot this year, and we’re here now and it just happened,” said Reichenberger, “Moving forward to next season, we’ve got to keep playing hard. That’s what the three seniors taught us, to just keep going. Even if nothing is going your way, keep fighting through everything and it’ll drop eventually. We’ve got to stay as a team and just get better. Always get better.”
Montana Rickey, senior forward/guard, was one of three seniors in the squad that played their final game for the Lady Builders today. “It’s tough because I know that’s my last game, but I’ve played here all four years and it’s been amazing and I couldn’t imagine playing at any other school,” said Rickey, “The best part about playing at Southwestern has been my teammates. We say family with everything that we do. In every timeout, every play, every point, we say family and we mean it. All of these girls, the coaches and everyone like that, we’re all one big family.”
The Lady Builders’ season may have ended today, but there are still positives to take out of this game and moving on to next season. “I thought that some of our young kids stepped up today. We had a couple of sophomores that played big minutes for us today; Tiffany Reiger, Kenzi Taylor, and then obviously we’ll be returning a really good junior class as well next year, so the future is bright, but it’s disappointing to see the seniors go out like that. But overall, I saw a lot of good things that we can build on next year,” said Corley.
Sam Jones is a freshman majoring in communication. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.