GAME DAY: Women’s basketball plays on after winter storm, loses 71-69


Jason Uchewuakor

Morgan Gary (left) shoots a lay up against UT-Tyler at the Recreation and Athletic Center.

After a cold and dark week for many in Central Texas, it was time to play some basketball on the Hilltop. The St. Edward’s women’s basketball team had two games and two days of practice canceled last week, but they had no time to think about it as they hosted the 4th ranked team in the South Central Region–the University of Texas-Tyler Patriots–on Saturday afternoon at the university’s Recreation and Athletic Center.

As if this week hadn’t been tough enough, the Hilltoppers would also be without their sophomore guard, Isabel Langenberg, who suffered an injury in practice on Friday. 

In the first quarter, the Hilltoppers picked right up where they left in their win at Texas A&M International. Going head-to-head with the top-ranked team in the Lone Star Conference, the Hilltoppers went into the second quarter with a 20-17 lead. Scoring leaders Morgan Gary and Jayda Ruffus-Milner wound up in foul trouble, each with three, and had to sit the end of the second quarter. St. Edward’s largest lead was during the second quarter, leading 25-20. From that moment on, the Patriots took over the game, going on a 24-6 run to end the half and headed to the locker room up 44-31. In the first half, the UT-Tyler bench outscored the St. Edward’s bench 21-6. 

With the Hilltoppers on the ropes after Gary picked up her fourth foul in the third quarter, Head Coach J.J. Riehl took a gamble on a lineup that hasn’t played together this entire season: Ronnie Cantu, Dafne Gianesini,  Mikah Chapman, Sammie Dufek and Ruffus-Milner. This group not only kept the Hilltoppers alive but chipped away at the deficit. The Hilltoppers outscored the Patriots 14-10 in the second quarter, putting them in single digits as they entered the fourth quarter (54-45). 

The run didn’t stop there. The Hilltoppers climbed all the way back from a 15-point deficit, when Ruffus-Milner hit two free throws to tie the game at 61, all with 3:50 remaining in regulation. Lauren Catherman gave the Hilltoppers a 66-64 lead for a moment off of free throws, but the Patriots answered quickly with a jumper by Destini Whitehead. Matilda Soric hit a critical 3-pointer with 43 seconds remaining to give the Hilltoppers a 69-66 lead, but the Patriots’ Tina Machalova responded with 22 seconds remaining. 

The Hilltoppers had a chance to hold for a final shot, but a controversial foul called on Cantu gave the Patriots the ball with 11 seconds remaining. That’s all they needed, as Frances King hit a game-winning jumper with less than a second remaining to lift the Patriots over St. Edward’s 71-69.

St. Edward’s drops to 11-12 on the year and 7-8 in conference play. The win moves UT-Tyler to 19-4 and 14-2 in league play. St. Edward’s will return to action on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. to host University of Arkansas Fort Smith.