The LSU of Alexandria women’s basketball team had its national tournament run last longer than probably most thought it would, but it came to an end Friday as its hopes to continue its best season in program history were dashed in the second round of the NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship Tournament.
The Generals had a 3-pointer at the final buzzer fall off the mark in a 69-66 loss to the Lewis-Clark State Warriors Friday afternoon at the Rimrock Auto Arena.
“I couldn’t be prouder of how this team fought and battled,” said LSUA head coach Bob Austin. “I know the girls are disappointed with how this game ended, but they should hold their head high because they achieved so much this season.”
The Generals, the No. 7-seed in the tournament’s Naismith bracket, led for much of a tight first quarter but, Lewis-Clark State, the Naismith bracket’s No. 6-seed, finished the period on a 6-0 run as a pair of Cali Moscrip free throws gave the Warriors a 20-18 lead after one period of play.
LSUA made its move to try to open the game up in the second quarter, opening the period on a 15-4 run over the first seven-plus minutes of the period to take the largest lead of the game for either team as another Thaxton three made the score 33-24 Generals with 2:45 left before halftime. The Warriors eventually cut that lead down to as little as five before LSUA eventually ended up taking a six-point lead into the halftime lockerroom, 37-31.
However, the Generals’ luck started to turn in the third quarter.
After an Aja Law putback gave LSUA a 42-35 lead with 8:20 left in the period, the Warriors went on a 7-0 run to tie the game up as an Abbie Johnson lay-up made it 42-42.
Lewis-Clark State continued its run until it reached a five-point advantage for the Warriors on a couple of Peyton Souvenir free throws that capped the run at 16-4 and made the score, 51-46, in favor of the Warriors. It took a 55-52 lead to the final ten minutes of play.
Law pulled LSUA back within a point to start the fourth quarter as she got the period’s first bucket to make it 55-54 Warriors, but Lewis-Clark State eventually pushed the lead back up to five points on a Jossilyn Blackman bucket to make it 59-54.
The Generals retook the lead as Courtney Dawsey drained the straight away three to make it 62-61 LSUA with four minutes left. But that was LSUA’s last lead as the Warriors converted on three-point plays on their next two possessions sandwiched around a LSUA miss as Lewis-Clark State re-opened a five point lead.
The Generals gave themselves a chance to force overtime late by getting two free throws from Kelsey Thaxton and then got a stop and rebound, however, LSUA’s hopes for another upset were dashed as Dawsey’s 3-point attempt at the buzzer bounced off the side of the rim and fell away to end LSUA’s season.
Although the loss stings, Austin was happy of what the team accomplished this season.
“Our three seniors; E’Layzha (Bates), Natalie (Alaniz), and Alexis (Harris), leave our program at the highest point we’ve ever reached, and we’re a lot better team having had them as Generals, and we will miss them greatly,” Austin said. “But we have a lot of young players who had a great experience up here in Billings and learned a lot about how to win in this tournament, and I know they are already itching to get back to work so we can get back here next year and make an even deeper run. You have to like our outlook when you realize our two leading scorers in both games are freshmen this season.”
Thaxton found the range on Friday, hitting six 3-pointers in the contest along with four free throws to finish as the game high scorer with 22 points. Two days after setting a new career high in points, Law tallied her first career postseason double-double, and fourth of the season, with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Dawsey was LSUA’s final double figure scorer with 11 points, five rebounds, three assists, and two steals.
After showcasing the interior game in the first round, LSUA went with the perimeter game against Lewis-Clark State (22-11), hitting 34.8 percent of its shots from the field, including nine made three-pointers. Getting to the free-throw line was a chore for the Generals, but when they got there, they converted, hitting nine of 11 at the charity stripe.
The Warriors ended the game hitting 43.6 percent of their shots and hit only two of their 15 attempts from long range. However, Lewis-Clark State took advantage of the interior, outscoring the Generals by 10 points in the paint and got sent to the free throw line nine more times than LSUA, where the Warriors made ten more free throws than the Generals did.
LSUA ends its season with a 22-8 record, breaking the program records for most overall wins and most wins in conference play, with 14.
Published 7:37 PM EDT Mar 16, 2019