By MARLON SCOTT | Senior Staff Writer
The determined defensive stand, lucky bounce, extra dive, miraculous call or clutch shot in the last minutes of the game did not propel the Lady Govs pass the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles into the finals at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium Saturday, March 3.
Even though fans of the Lady Govs still had hope when the team trailed the Golden Eagles, 56-51, with only 1 minute and 20 seconds remaining in the game, a third straight Lady Govs come from behind win did not happen.
Instead, it was the top-seeded Golden Eagles who made the clutch shots and plays to win the game, 65-56, and advance to the OVC Women’s Basketball Championship Finals.
“They made plays,” said head coach Carrie Daniels. “It’s tough because I am extremely proud of this basketball team. At the same time, when you’re to this point, it comes down to making plays and making stops. We didn’t do enough of that to survive and advance.”
The Lady Govs struggled offensively throughout the game. They made 36 percent (22-61) of their field goals, including just 4-16 from 3-point range.
The solid free throw shooting that sealed the wins in the first two games of the OVC tournament also vanished. They shot 25 percent (4-16) from the charity stripe.
Senior guard Brooke Faulkner and junior center Jasmine Rayner who led the team with double-digit points in the previous two games were held to 7 and 9 points respectively.
Freshman guard Nicole Olszewski led the team with 14 points. Senior guard Whitney Hanley scored 12.
“We didn’t hit our shots tonight and I played a horrible game. I’m beating myself up about that right now,” Faulkner said.
The Golden Eagles actually did not shoot better than the Lady Govs from the field. They made just 34 percent (17-50) of their field goals. However, they made clutch shots from 3-point range and the free throw line. They made 9-21 (43 percent), 3-pointers and shot 22-27 (82 percent), from the free throw line.
The Golden Eagles took an early lead in the game and had an answer for every run the Lady Govs made. The answer was usually a 3-pointer by Golden Eagle junior guard Rachel Glidden. Glidden made six of her team’s nine 3-pointers on the way to a game-high 20 points.
The Lady Govs also did not have an answer for Golden Eagle junior point guard Tacarra Hayes. Hayes scored a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds. She also made 12-13 from the free throw line and led the team with 7 assists.
The Lady Govs led in the game only once. They made an 11-5 run in the beginning of the second half to take a 36-35 lead with 14:12 left in the game.
The Golden Eagles countered with a 7-0 run and did not relinquish the lead.
“We are not going to hang our heads,” Daniels said. “I feel for the four seniors. That is what’s most disappointing. The effort and the years they have given, it is the end. The last two years they have gone out on top and that is all they have known. At the same time, the other players who are returning, it’s time for them to go to work.”
“Like coach Daniels said, ever since I’ve been here, we have won. I’m not used to this. This is the worst feeling in the world. We didn’t have our best night. To go out like this, it’s a disappointment. We came this far and I think next year we plan on going even further and getting the championship back.”
LADY GOVS VS. GOLDEN EAGLES LIVE UPDATES
Final- Lady Govs lose to Golden Eagles, 65-56
Update-0:36 second half
Lady Govs forced to foul, but Golden Eagles making free throws. Lady Govs trail 61-53.
Update-2:00 second half
Olzewski makes a 3-pointer cut Golden Eagle Lead to seven, 56-49
Update-5:09 second half
Gladden hits her sixth, 3-pointer of the game to expand the Golden Eagles lead, 53-45.
Update-7:46 second half
Golden Eagles staying ahead of the Lady Govs. They lead 46-41.
Update-11:43 second half
Thomas gave the Lady Govs a one-point lead from the free throw line, but Golden Eagles responded with a 3-pointer. They lead 40-36.
Update-14:45 second half
Hanley makes a 3-pointer to bring the Lady Govs within one of the Golden Eagles, 35-34
Update-15:41 second half
Lady Govs trying to close the gap, still trail 35-31.
Tennessee Tech leads 30-25
Update-2:49 first half
Olzewski makes a short jumper off the dribble to bring the Lady Govs within three, 26-23
Update-7:15 first half
Golden Eagles on 10-4 run, leading 21-14
Update-9:22 first half
Gladden makes her fifth 3-pointer to extend Golden Eagles lead, 19-12
Update-11:54 first half
Dalila Thomas scores her first points in the post. Brings Lady Govs within three of Golden Eagles, 11-8
Update-14:09 first half
Jasmine Rayner makes two free throws. Tech leads 8-4
Update-15:22 first half
Tech’s Rachel Glidden only one to score in first four minutes. She has made two from 3-point range to give Golden Eagles a 6-0 lead.