GAME DAY: Women’s basketball gains victory over University of Arkansas-Fort Smith

Graduate student Sammie Dufek shoots another free-throw, going 3-4 on the line.

Anna Pratts / Hilltop Views

Graduate student Sammie Dufek shoots another free-throw, going 3-4 on the line.

The Recreation and Athletics Center was the stage for a thrilling 74-71 Hilltopper win for women’s basketball against the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith Lions last Thursday.

The Hilltoppers set the tone for the game right at the beginning of the first q

uarter, with graduate student Jayda Ruffus-Milner going on a eight point run and with graduate student Morgan Gary giving the final touches with a 3-pointer from deep. The quarter ended at 20-15, and St. Edward’s had the lead. 

“I came in with a lot of energy and that was shown when I first stepped on the floor, and I scored a lot of our points in the beginning of the game,” Ruffus-Milner said. 

The pressure was high at the start of the second quarter, with SEU’s defense closing the paint on the Lions. Junior Bella Muscoreil came in hot off the bench, scoring 3-5 and having one offensive and one defensive rebound. Ruffus-Milner kept the energy high, scoring 11 points total in the first half and going 5-6 on the free-throw line. Multiple fouls from the Lions led to a complete Hilltopper dominance on the line, scoring 14-15. St. Ed’s had an even bigger lead going into halftime with a 37-31 score. 

Graduate student forward Jayda Ruffus-Milner gets a layup and two more points. (Anna Pratts / Hilltop Views)

The Lions returned from the locker room with a strong defense, bringing SEU’s lead down to three points with 15 minutes left in the game. UAFS’ Aalyiah Prince gave the Hilltoppers a hard time, scoring seven points in the third quarter alone. However, Hilltopper Sammie Dufek kept on scoring and asserting her dominance on the free throw line and defensive side, shooting 3-4 and with five defensive rebounds. Despite the pressure, Hilltoppers maintained the lead, going into the fourth and final quarter with a score of 52-49.

Ruffus-Milner made a controversial technical foul right at the beginning of the quarter, but that didn’t stop the Hilltoppers. Gary kept the team alive, scoring seven points, and junior Lauren Catherman stepped in with 8-8 on the free-throw line. Prince did not take it easy, scoring a 3-pointer with less than three minutes remaining. Junior Matilda Soric answered immediately with an explosive 3-pointer from deep, maintaining the lead and bringing the score to 72-69. With 12 seconds left, the Lions scored two free-throws, bringing the score to 72-71. Tensions were high, but Ronnie Cantu didn’t let that get to her as she scored two final free-throw shots, going 4-4 on the line, and leading the Hilltoppers to a 74-71 win. 

“Our girls did a great job at being resilient and handling the adversity, specifically of the fourth quarter, in a game that there was so much riding on that we really needed to win,” Head Coach J.J. Riehl said. 

Ruffus-Milner and Catherman led the Hilltoppers in points, each scoring 17 points. Gary and Cantu joined them in scoring double digits, with 13 and 10 points respectively. On the other side of the court, Prince led the Lions with 26 points. 

The Hilltoppers are now placed sixth in the Lone Star Conference with a 6-6 record. Check the schedule for the last games of the season here.