Ladyjacks Stumble in Las Cruces
Nov. 27, 2009
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - If a stellar second-half shooting performance was the main headline in the Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks' victory over Rice last Saturday, then the exact opposite was true Friday evening. The Ladyjacks (2-1) dropped an 85-61 decision to Michigan (4-1) in the opening round of the Aggie Hotel Encanto Thanksgiving Classic. SFA struggle in the second half with a 10-of-41 (.244) performance in the final 20 minutes.
"The score is not indicative of how close the game was," said SFA head coach Lee Ann Riley. "I'm proud of how hard the girls fought tonight. Michigan is a very good team with a ton of size, and our girls didn't back down. We just couldn't get our shots to fall in the second half. We were getting looks at the basket, but just couldn't get them to fall."
The Wolverines jumped out of the gates quickly knocking down 29-of-59 (.519) shots, but SFA didn't allow Michigan to run off and hide. The Ladyjacks kept the game close knocking down four of their eight three-pointers in the opening half. SFA finished the half converting 14-of-36 attempts (.389) and trailed by only eight points at intermission.
But after a slow start by the Ladyjacks in the second half, Michigan was able to push it's lead to double digits. The Wolverines led by 13 points, 59-46, with just over nine minutes remaining. Michigan pushed it's lead to 18 points late in the game due to their overwhelming advantage at the free throw line.
Michigan made 18 more free throws than the Ladyjacks attempted, going 24-of-30 (.800) from the stripe. SFA, who continues to be clutch at the stripe, was 5-of-6 (.833). Another area that hurt SFA was its inability to convert on Wolverine turnovers. The Ladyjacks forced Michigan into 22 turnovers, but scored only seven points off the miscues.
"Along with slow start at the beginning of each half, we were really hurt by the fact that we didn't take advantage of the extra opportunities," said Riley. "We forced Michigan into 22 turnovers, but scored very few points from those turnovers. We have to take advantage of those opportunities and we didn't tonight."
Senior Whitney Cormier recorded her second-straight twenty-point effort to lead the SFA cause. She finished the game with 23 points on 10-of-17 shooting, including a 2-of-3 effort from beyond the arc. Sophomores Tammara Marion and Courtney Conwright joined Cormier in double figures, scoring 12 points each. The 12-point outing marks the second-straight career effort by Conwright.
The Ladyjacks return to action Saturday to face SIU-Edwardsville. The game against the Cougars is slated to begin at 6 p.m. from the Pan American Center in Las Cruces, N.M.