Friday, December 31, 2010

#22 Lady Buffs drop third straight, fall 67-60 to #1 Delta State

CLEVELAND, Miss. – The West Texas A&M Lady Buff basketball team suffered another defeat to a top-25-ranked team this season, falling 67-60 to No. 1-ranked Delta State at Walter Sillers Coliseum in Cleveland, Miss., on Friday.

The No. 22-ranked Lady Buffs dropped a fourth straight contest to teams ranked inside the USA Today/ESPN Division II Coaches Poll and fell to 6-5 overall on the season with the road loss. The top-ranked Lady Statesmen meanwhile improved to 8-0 overall, while picking up their 988th all-time victory. DSU extended its NCAA Division II seventh-best home winning streak to 54-consecutive games as well.

Just as they did against No. 5-ranked Arkansas Tech a few nights ago, the WTAMU defense forced the home team from getting into any type of rhythm on the offensive side of the court. The Lady Buffs led  by as many as 10 points in the first half, but the Lady Statesmen closed out the period on a 6-2 run and WT instead took a 34-28 lead into the break.

Up 9-8 with 12:41 remaining in the first half, Ashley Leven (Jr-2L, Amarillo, Texas) hit a jumper that helped spark a 13-5 run for the Lady Buffs and WT led 22-13 with 7:35 left on the clock. DSU countered though with a 9-0 run and tied the game at 22-22 with 6:00 left to play in the period.

Jamie Simmons (Jr-1L, Houston, Texas) then nailed a jumper with 5:39 showing on the clock and Ariel Robertson (Fr-RS, Cedar Hill, Texas) put in back-to-back layups in-between a pair of free throws from Megan McLain (Sr-3L, Channing, Texas) and a bucket from Aly Sherman (Jr-1L, Mt. Vernon, Texas).

The 10-0 run put WT on top 32-22 before DSU could counter with six straight points at the other end. Simmons then hit both of her attempts at the charity stripe just before the end of the half to give the Lady Buffs the six-point lead heading into the locker rooms.

The Lady Statesmen came out of the break scoring the first eight points of the second half and with 17:35 left to play, DSU took its first lead since the 15:11 mark of the first period, up 36-34. Sherman then put in her second bucket of the day with 16:34 left to play in the game, which tied the game at 36-36.

The two teams would trade buckets over the next few possessions before DSU’s Bug Cooper scored on a layup and then hit the and-one-attempt following a foul to give the Lady Statesmen a 43-38 lead. McLain followed with a pair of free throws and Robertson put in another layup to pull the Lady Buffs within a point, down 43-42.

With 11:38 left in the period, Cooper hit a jumper that gave DSU a 47-42 lead, but Simmons recorded the game’s next four points and WT again trailed by just one point, 47-46 with 9:17 remaining.

The Lady Statesmen were held without a field goal for over three minutes until Moe Bell drained a three-pointer with 8:09 left to play. This gave DSU a 52-46 lead and sparked a 10-2 run, which gave the Lady Statesmen a 58-48 lead with 5:31 left in the game.

WT was forced to foul down the stretch, and despite outscoring the Lady Statesmen 12-6 over the final 5:21, the 11-point deficit was too large to comeback from. A couple of three-pointers from Robertson down the stretch pulled the Lady Buffs closer, but time slipped away from the visiting team and DSU came away with the 67-60 victory.

Simmons paced the Lady Buff offense with a team-high 20 points, while Robertson followed with a total of 16 points off the bench. McLain finished the contest with 10 points. Simmons recorded eight rebounds and Sherman led all WT players with four assists.

Cooper tied a career-high as she led all players with 27 points. Walker (13 points) and Bell (10 points) each tallied double-digit efforts for the Lady Statesmen as well. Walker came within a rebound shy of collecting a double-double, finishing the afternoon with nine boards. Cooper dished out a game-high six assists as well.

The Lady Buffs outshot the home team, 47.9% to 45.6% from the field, but it was the -12.2% difference from the first half (54.5%) to the second half (42.3%) that hurt WT. The Lady Buffs did however manage outshoot the Lady Statesmen 40% to 20% from three-point range.

WT improved at the free throw line on Friday, making 10-of-13 from the charity stripe. The 76.9% effort was the third best outing for the Lady Buffs this season. DSU shot 65.0% after going 13-for-20 from the line.

DSU out-rebounded the Lady Buffs 40-26 and scored 17 more (21-4) second-chance points than the Lady Buffs did. Each team tallied 24 points apiece off of the other opponent’s turnovers.

Despite dropping the past three contests to three top-10 ranked teams, the Lady Buffs should be well prepared for the upcoming Lone Star Conference South Division schedule.

Before opening conference play though, WT still has two LSC crossover games remaining - with both of them coming on the road. The Lady Buffs will have the next five days to prepare for its next opponent as they will ring-in the 2011 portion of the season on the road against Southeastern Oklahoma. The Lady Buffs and Savage Storm will play next Thursday, Jan. 6, with a tip-off set for 6 p.m. inside Bloomer Sullivan Arena in Durant, Okla. WT will then face East Central on Saturday, Jan. 8, in Ada, Okla.

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