Women’s basketball season comes to an end after loss in conference tournament

Despite injuries, inconsistencies and inexperience throughout the season, No. 4 St. Edward’s University’s women’s basketball team managed to return to the Heartland Conference Championship Tournament for the third season in a row.

The Hilltoppers fell in the semi-final game to No. 1 University of Arkansas-Fort Smith.

The matchup against the Lions finished with an 81-52 score on Friday night at the Stubblefield Center in Arkansas, bringing the Hilltoppers’ season to an end.

In the regular season, (15-12) St. Edward’s and the (19-8) UA Fort Smith had each won a game.

Off to a good offensive start, the Hilltoppers were on the board with two three-pointers from senior guard Jaimie Kadlecek, forcing UA Fort Smith to call an early timeout with a 19-8 score.

After the timeout, the Lions sparked a 14-0 run to take an 18-10 lead, mostly on turnovers.

“(It was) really the difference in the game on Friday against Fort Smith was taking of the ball,” Head Coach J.J. Riehl.

At halftime, the score was 41-25 with St. Edward’s trailing UA Fort Smith.

In the second half, the Lions would continue to outscore the Hilltoppers, who recorded a season-high of 28 turnovers.

At the end of the game, UA Fort Smith had a 29-point win over St. Edward’s, advancing to the conference finals against the University of Texas of the Permian Basin.

With the loss, senior Hilltoppers Kathleen Brisbane, Aimee Durbidge, Jaimie Kadlecek and Tomorrow Huff had played their final basketball game in a St. Edward’s uniform.

Fatheree led the Hilltoppers with 12 points, earning a spot on the Heartland Conference All-Tournament Team for her efforts.

Next season, some of the scoring leaders are expected to be sophomores: forward Lexi Fatheree and guard Mikala Loydrake, and forward Khiani Clark. Leadership wise, Riehl expects freshman Haley Jolly to lead by example on and off the court.

“I think when you look at our season, the whole picture, you will see our season as a direct result of inexperience and youth,” Riehl said. “Unfortunately we had to encounter a number of growing pains this year with so many new players, but the year has been extremely successful and the future very bright.”