Friday, December 31, 2010

Second Half Slump Costs UWF in 75-54 Loss

PENSACOLA, Fla. – Sixteen second half turnovers proved costly for the University of West Florida women’s basketball team on Friday afternoon as they fell, 75-54, to Harding University in the final game of the 2010 UWF Holiday Classic. The Argonauts led the game at the halftime break, 32-31, but were outscored 44-22 in the second stanza.

Sierra Rollins led the Lady Bisons (8-3) with 13 points and 11 rebounds en route to earning Tournament MVP honors. Harding pulled away in large part thanks to free throw shooting, as they knocked down 21-of-23 (91.3%) foul shots on the night.

West Florida (7-6) had another tough night from three-point range, going 0-for-10 from behind the arc. The game is the fourth of the season in which the Argonauts have failed to hit a three-point field goal. Keaundrea Merriewether paced UWF with a career-high nine points.

The opening half was by far the more competitive of the two periods, with the teams swapping the lead on four occasions. The Argos took their biggest lead at the 13:46 mark, when Kirstin McIntyre scored on a put-back to make the score 15-10.

Harding took control with a 7-0 spurt late in the half. All-Tournament selection Kallie Bartee set up Bailey St. Clair for a running lay-in at the 4:46 mark to end the run and put the visitors ahead, 27-24.

Three late-free throws by Jessica Young gave UWF a 32-31 advantage at the intermission. Young finished the game with seven points, all from the foul line, while chipping in a team-high eight rebounds.

St. Clair opened up the 2nd half with a three-pointer on Harding’s first possession, giving the Lady Bisons a lead they would not relinquish. Harding opened the period on a 19-6 run, capped by Brittany Gottsponer’s three-pointer to make the score 50-40 with 11:16 remaining.

Once pushing the lead to double-digits, Harding was never again tested. A fastbreak hoop from St. Clair stretched the advantage to 69-50 with 2:30 on the clock, and Lauren Harrison gave the Lady Bisons their biggest lead, 75-52, in the game’s final minute.

Michaela Brown scored 12 points off the bench for Harding, while St. Clair scored 11 and Bartee added ten. The Lady Bisons shot just 38.7% from the floor but had more assists (15) than turnovers.

UWF gave the ball away 23 times for the game. Young and Sher’Ryan Scott, who scored eight points in the game, grabbed UWF’s All-Tournament spots.

Young was stellar for UWF on the defensive end, tallying a career-high five blocked shots and three steals. Octavia Bearden and Jade Howard each added eight points for the Argonauts.

UWF will take the weekend off before returning to the court on January 8, when they will face the University of Mobile, an NAIA institution. UWF is 2-0 against NAIA teams in 2010-11. Tip-off is scheduled for 5 pm.

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