Courtesy of Erik Williams - Southland Communic
Southeastern’s women’s basketball team traveled to Katy, Texas for the Southland Conference tournament as a No. 3 seed.
Though the journey ended with a loss, SLU made history with its first-ever championship final for the Southland title and their first tournament wins since the 2001-02 season.
The Lady Lions played their first game against seventh-ranked New Orleans Privateers, winning 80-66 on March 11, then moved to the semifinals, playing and beating second-ranked Texas A&M Corpus Christi 59-54 on March 12. Next, SLU played the University of Incarnate Word in the championship, losing this closely battled game 56-52 on March 13.
Tied up 50-50 at the end of regulation, the game went into overtime in which four missed shots by SLU and a single lay-up by UIW allowed the Cardinals to take the late lead and win the game after the five-minute overtime.
During the tight championship game, guard Hailey Gairatano scored 15 points to combat the Cardinals’ offensive powerhouse. SLU tallied 22 defensive rebounds and 35 rebounds in total.
The Lions had trouble on defense against UIW, in which Cardinals’ forward Tiana Gardner resisted the Lions’ advances on the court by scoring 22 points and 12 rebounds.
A dominating win over the Islanders beforehand sent the ladies to the championship. In overtime, a steal by Bell and two missed three-pointers by the Islanders punched the Lions’ ticket to the championship game.
Scoring in the semifinal was led by Gairatano, who scored 15 and four rebounds, and guard Alexius Horne led SLU with 17 and five rebounds.
The team’s 40% three-point scoring, 11 steals and 32 rebounds assisted majorly with the higher-ranked match-up versus Corpus Christi.
SLU also ruled the court in the quarterfinal, with the team having 40 rebounds, 10 steals and a 57.1% field goal percentage that allowed the Lions to maintain a strong lead the entire game.
Guard Taylor Bell led the ladies with 13 points and seven rebounds, and guard Breonca Ducksworth scored 12 points. Forward Caitlyn Williams, forward Natalie Kelly and center Morgan Davis scored 10 points each for the Lions. Giaratano had eight points and seven rebounds for the Cards.
The team currently has many returning players, which many hope could repeat a championship appearance with this season being a learning experience for the very talented and young roster.