By Clinton Dick
Staff reporter

Despite getting close several times, the Lady Builders never had a second half lead over Mount Mercy University. The team lost their first round game in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Division II Women’s Basketball Championship tournament 69-67 to the Lady Mustangs from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. This loss ends Southwestern’s season and sends them back home from Tyson Events Center in Soux City, Iowa.

After falling down by as many as 11 in the second half, the Lady Builders pulled within one on four separate occasions.

“I kept looking up at the scoreboard thinking we’re going to get it done, but we could just never get over the hump,” said Dave Denly, head women’s basketball coach. The team came into the tournament a No. 6 seed facing the No. 3 seeded Lady Mustangs.

Montana Rickey, freshman forward, played arguably one of her best games of the season, recording a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds. She also had five blocked shots for the team.

“Montana Rickey played unbelievably,” said Denly. “She played her tail off.”

Rickey snagged a big offensive rebound with under 30 seconds to play and was fouled. She missed her second free throw and Mount Mercy maintained a 66-64 lead. Micha Mimms, senior guard, was fouled on the Lady Mustangs ensuing possession. The 84 percent season free-throw shooter sunk both to give her team a two-possession lead with 13.3 seconds remaining.

The story of Mount Mercy’s success came from down low. Bria Fields, senior forward, and Amanda Frost, sophomore forward, both had field days against Southwestern’s interior defense, combining for 33 points. Fields led all scorers with 18 points. Mimms scored 16 for the Lady Mustangs and Frost had 15 points.

“They had a game plan to take the ball to us inside,” said Denly. “We did a great job of contending that in the second half.”

The Lady Builders started quick, grabbing an early 16-9 lead, but things turned around swiftly when Mount Mercy went on an 18-6 run to go up 37-28 with 2:19 left in the first half. They were down at halftime 41-34.

“We lost our composure,” said Denly, “We weren’t being physical or tough.”

The Lady Mustangs shot just 26 percent in the second half, but that didn’t slow them down from putting up the first four points of the half to take their biggest lead of the game. They saw that lead dwindle, but never disappear.

In her final collegiate game, Brett Bates, senior guard, came out of the gate on fire. She scored the first eight points for the Lady Builders. Two first half fouls cooled her off quickly and she finished hitting just four of 12 shots from the field and 13 points. Brittney Chamberlin, junior guard, also struggled much of the game, hitting just two of 13 shots.

“You can’t fault their effort. I thought we played extremely hard,” said Denly. “Unfortunately, we just did not make enough shots.”

Denly’s team finishes with a 23-9 record on the year.

Clinton Dick is a junior majoring in convergent journalism. You may e-mail him at clinton.dick@sckans.edu.