By CHRIS DOELLE
Bobcat women win first ever postseason basketball game in Texas State history
SAN MARCOS – Strahan Coliseum was the site of the first ever Women’s National Invitation Tournament game in Texas State University history. The Bobcat women hosted the game against Prairie View A&M on Thursday night in front of the home fans. Texas State was caught off-guard by the fast breaking style of the Lady Panthers, but Coach Suzanne Fox‘s halftime adjustments worked as the Bobcats came back to win their first-ever postseason game 84-83 in exciting fashion.
Candice Thomas opened the scoring for Prairie View and before the Bobcats knew what hit them, they were down 10-0. Marie Moser finally ended the drought for Texas State when she hit a bucket a few minutes later. The running style of Cynthia Cooper-Dyke‘s Lady Panthers caught the ‘Cats off guard as Prairie View led by as much as 18 in the first half. Team leader and Southland Conference Player of the Year, Joyce Ekworomadu struggled from the floor going 2-10 while teammate Brooke DeGrate managed only 1 of 5 from the floor and missed both of her three-point attempts. The Bobcats were sparked back into contention by the slashing play of PG, Victoria Davis and Tamarra Evans-Slugga‘s performance off the bench. Evans-Slugga entered the game late in the first half and scored 8 points in her first two minutes of play making her the leading Bobcat scorer in the first half. The lead dropped to 4 (36-32) and the 2:50 mark when Aimee Hilburn hit a three-pointer. In the final minutes of the first half however, Prairie View A&M outscored Texas State 9-2 and took a 45-34 lead into the locker. Candice Thomas never slowed down her scoring and finished the half with 26 to lead both teams.
The second half started off defensively as both teams were held scoreless for the first 2:17. It was Brooke DeGrate who got things started for the Bobcats with a bucket. From there, the teams traded buckets for the next two minutes until the Lady Panthers went on a 9-3 run making the lead 43-58 with 13:50 remaining. The ‘Cats responded with a 10-0 run to cut the lead to 5 (58-53) with 11:41 remaining. With just 9:55 to go in the game, Joyce Ekworomadu hit a three cutting the lead to two points (61-59.) After Kim Cessna took a charge that was called a foul, she responded by sinking a three to tie the game 62 all with 9:45 remaining. On the following possession, Joyce Ekworomadu took a fast break pass and put up a layup with two Lady Panthers draped all over her. The shot missed, but but Brooke DeGrate was right there for the put-back which gave Texas State their first lead of the game 64-64 with just 8:50 remaining in the first round tournament game. Again the two squads traded buckets until the score was 66 all.
Victoria Davis hit a jumper to make the score 69-68 at the 6:43 mark and the action paused while she hit the floor with a leg cramp. Candice Thomas hit two free throws with 5:40 remaining to once again tie the game. With 3:46 to go, Prairie View took a four-point lead 76-72 but the Bobcats wouldn’t not give up, cutting the lead to 76-74. Chari Smith who had been just 2-11 from the floor hit two free throws down the stretch extending the Lady Panther lead to 6 (80-74.) With 1:01 remaining, the Bobcats came up short and down by four were forced to foul. Shavonne Smith hit two freebies to extend the lead 82-76. Joyce Ekworomadu canned a step-back three with 27.4 seconds remaining to make it a one-possession game 82-79. Brooke DeGrate trapped Shavonne Smith on the inbounds, and fouled her to put Smith on the charity stripe. Smith missed both shots and Victoria Davis canned a jumper with 14.5 seconds remaining to make it a one-point game (82-81.) Davis then fouled Candice Thomas who responded by hitting one of two. Down by two with 9.4 seconds remaining, Joyce Ekworomadu hit the most important three-pointer of the night, giving the Bobcats the lead 84-83 with 1.4 seconds remaining. Ekworomadu then collapsed with a cramp as her teammates were given the task of holding onto their lead for the final second. Aimee Hilburn caught the inbound pass and Strahan Coliseum erupted as the Texas State Bobcats won their first ever W-NIT game 84-83.
Joyce Eckworomadu nails the game-winning three
|Prairie View A&M
Scoring: Joyce Ekworomadu (20), Aimee Hilburn (11), Marie Moser (10)
Rebounding: Aimee Hilburn (10), Marie Moser (7), Brooke DeGrate (6)
Assists: Victoria Davis (6), Brooke DeGrate (4), Aimee Hilburn (2)
Steals: Brooke DeGrate (3), Aimee Hilburn (2), Marie Moser (2)
Blocks: Aimee Hilburn, Marie Moser, Brooke DeGrate, Chika Ofoegbu (1)
Prairie View A&M
Scoring: Candice Thomas (40), Dominque Smith (13), Shavonne Smith (12)
Rebounding: Chari Smith (13), Twila Stokes (10), Aminata Dieye (10)
Assists: Shavonne Smith (8) many (2)
Steals: Twila Stokes (3),
Blocks: many (1)
Texas State continues their postseason run Saturday at 7PM in Lubbock, Texas against Texas Tech.