By MARLON SCOTT
Senior Staff Writer
The Lady Govs survived a strong second half surge by the TSU Lady Tigers and earned their third straight win at home, 74-66, Saturday, Feb. 12.
When these two teams last played one month ago at TSU, the Lady Govs dominated the Lady Tigers to a 60-45 victory.
With less than 10 minutes remaining in the game at the Dunn Center Saturday night, it appeared history would repeat itself as the Lady Govs established a 20-point lead.
However, missed shots and turnovers allowed the Lady Tigers to claw their way back within two points of the Lady Govs with one minute and 19 seconds left to play.
“We came out in the second half, got things going, really got into a flow, got a big lead and then everything kind of fell apart,” said head coach Carrie Daniels.
After a slow start, Lady Govs senior guard Brooke Faulkner made her second three pointer in the first half and ignited a 13-4 run that gave the Lady Govs the lead at halftime, 34-26.
Faulkner led the team with 10 points in the first half. She finished the game with 14.
The Lady Govs’ leading scorer junior guard Whitney Hanley did not score in the first half. She did, however, explode offensively in the second half.
Whitney made her fourth three pointer in the first eight minutes of the second half on her way to 17 total points for the game. She went four of 10 from three point range.
It was all a part of the 24-12 run by the Lady Govs to start the second half that inevitably had them ahead of the Lady Tigers by 20 points, 58-38.
Instead of lying down, the Lady Tigers roared back with a 27-9 run. Lady Tiger forward, Taylor Foster led the charge with 16-second half points. Foster was one of three Lady Tigers who scored double digits.
“We knew that TSU wasn’t going to lie down and give us the game. They were going to continue to fight. You have to give them a lot of credit,” Daniels said.
Ahead by only two points, 67-65, freshman guard Nicole Olszewski made a move on a Lady Tiger defender that drove her to the basket and finish with a layup to end the Lady Govs offensive drought.
Afterwards, the Lady Govs defense clamped down and allowed the Lady Tigers to score only one more point from the free throw line.
Meanwhile, the Lady Govs made five of six from the free throw line down the stretch to seal the win.
“They know what they didn’t do letting them back in the game and what they had to do to pull out the win. Some teams that let a team like that back in it and then letting it get so close as it did would kind of shut down,” Daniels said. “TSU had all the momentum there late. They had it, they were going with it and they were making plays. Some teams would fold.”
“They would shut down and fold and just crumble. They didn’t. They maintained their composure. They were able to pull it out, regain themselves and make plays down the stretch and knock down some free throws as well.”
Olszewski, Hanley and Faulkner were three of five Lady Govs who scored double digits.
Olszewski and junior center Jasmine Rayner scored 10.
Senior forward Dalila Thomas added 11 points along with six rebounds and three blocks.
The team shot 40 percent (23-58) from the field and 72 percent (21-29) from the free throw line. They also scored 26 points from turnovers.
The Lady Tigers shot 42 percent (27-65) from the field and outscored the Lady Govs 24-12 in the paint. Their bench scored 22 points.
“Any win at this stage of the game is a big win,” Daniels said.
The win clinches a spot in the OVC Tournament for the Lady Govs and improves them to 10-16, 9-5 OVC.
They have four games remaining on their schedule. Next they travel to Jacksonville State, one of two games on the road before finishing with two games at home. TAS