After losing to rival Northeastern Oklahoma A&M last season, the Crowder sophomores were looking forward to a shot at revenge when they played host to the Lady Norse at Bob Sneller Gymnasium on Saturday.
That revenge, however, will have to wait. After struggling to shoot the ball, and in rare form, the Lady ‘Riders fell for just the second time this season, 59-55.
Perhaps fatigue began to set in after a pair of long road trips this week, but the Lady ‘Riders, who weren’t looking to make any excuses after the game, shot just 31-percent in the first half, followed by 34-percent in the second. Those struggles — coupled with a 54-percent clip from the free throw line, and 16-percent on 3-pointers — factored greatly in their demise. A slight increase in any of those categories likely wins the game.
“We really struggled offensively all day long,” Crowder coach Tina Robbins said. “We’ve been shooting 75, 80-percent from the free throw line on the year. It was one of those days where we struggled from the floor offensively.”
While the offense sputtered, defensively the Lady ‘Riders played well. They kept themselves in the game until the very end.
After trailing 30-23 at the half, the Lady ‘Riders came storming back to grab a 43-42 lead on a Camila Lacerda free throw with 7:00 remaining in the contest. They continued to stretch their impressive run and grew the lead to 48-42 on a free throw by Megan Ritter with 6:03 to go.
But a pair of clutch 3-pointers kept the Lady Norse in it as Eliana Fernandez buried treys with 5:03 and 3:11 left to each time pull NEO within two. Those shots proved crucial as Sofia Mendoza followed Fernandez’s second three with a three-point play of her own to give the Lady Norse the lead back, 53-52, with 2:49 to play.
Terai Sadler scored on a lay up with 1:13 to left to tie it at 55, but Anna Clark scored under the basket with 49 seconds left to give NEO the lead for good.
“I don’t think we played poorly defensively,” Robbins said. “They’re a good team and they (only) scored 59 points. I thought we did okay defensively, we just really struggled to put the ball in the hole on offense.”
Veronica Amos scored 12 points while Sadler turned in 11 and Sarah Sagely 10. Caprese Marshall finished with seven points while Dorian Briggs and Ritter both added five, Lacerda four and Seleena Neal one. Chloe Nichols played, but did not score.
Amos led the team with 11 rebounds, Lacerda turned in seven assists, and Sadler and Amos had two steals.
DeVaughn Gray netted 17 points for the Lady Norse while Fernandez and Clark turned in 11.
Page 2 of 2 - The Lady ‘Riders (10-2) travel to take on North Arkansas in Harrison, Ark., at 6 p.m. Tuesday.