West Texas A&M edges Colo. Mesa in back-and-forth battle for regional crown
CANYON, Texas -- Top-seeded West Texas A&M edged second-seeded Colorado Mesa in the South Central Region final 59-56 Monday evening. With the win, the Lady Buffs advance to their fifth Elite Eight in program history.
In front of the largest crowd of the season at 3,365, the Lady Buffs and Mavericks put on quite a show from start to finish. The game saw four ties and 15 lead changes as neither team led by more than eight points in the game.
On a night when the triples weren't falling, senior Lacee Logan came up with the biggest of her career as she nailed just the second of the night for the Lady Buffs, giving WT a 56-51 lead with 3:54 left. A steal and layup by Sharaya Selsor cut the deficit to three with 2:32 remaining.
Following a timeout, White made two free throws, pushing the lead to 58-53 after a huge offensive rebound by White. Selsor buried her second triple of the game with 1:42 left pull the Mavericks within 58-56.
The Lady Buffs had a good look on the ensuing possession, but a turnover and timeout by CMU gave the Mavericks a chance with 1:02 left. A huge missed layup by Taylor Rock and White grabbed the rebound for her 11th of the game gave WT the ball back with 49 seconds left.
Out of a timeout, senior Devin Griffin was fouled and made one of two tosses for a 59-56 lead with 21 seconds left. The Mavericks had one last look as Selsor's triple came after the buzzer sounded.
"It was a great college basketball game and a great environment as two heavyweights went at it and it lived up to everything we thought," head coach Mark Kellogg said. "We knew it was going to come down to the last five minutes. The crowd was unbelievable throughout and Lacee [Logan]'s 3 was huge to give us some separation which we definitely needed in the end. Devin [Griffin] got to the line and missed the first, but calmly made the second and we forced Selsor [Sharaya] into a really tough shot at the buzzer."
With the win, the Lady Buffs advance to their first Elite Eight since 2008-09 as they will travel to Erie, Pa., where they will take on Limestone (27-5). The game will tip on Tuesday, March 25, at 12 p.m. ET at the Erie Insurance Arena. WT now is 25-19 all time in the NCAA tournament.
Following the game, Griffin and senior Casey Land were named to the all-tournament team, along with Selsor and Pollart from CMU. White was tabbed tournament most oustanding player.
The Lady Buffs were led by a pair of double-doubles from Griffin and White as White was 6 of 8 from the field, 8 of 10 from the line and pulled down 11 rebounds, including eight on the offensive end. Griffin was 8 of 14 from the field and 4 of 7 from the line with a game-high 12 rebounds.
WT (30-2) shot 39.6 percent from the field in a really tough shooting night as CMU entered the game ranked No. 1 in all of the NCAA tournament allowing just 44.6 points per game and holding teams to .322 from the field. WT went 21 of 53 from the floor, 2 of 13 from beyond the arc and 15 of 22 from the line. The Lady Buffs pulled down 38 rebounds, including 16 offensive rebounds with 12 of them coming in the second half. WT won the battle of second-chance points 22-7.
CMU (30-2) was led by 16 points from Selsor on 6 of 11 from the field, 2 of 5 from 3-point range and 2 of 2 from the line. Hannah Pollart chipped in 15 points on 5 of 12 from the field and 5 of 6 from the line. The Mavericks shot 41.5 percent on 22 of 53 from the field and were 5 of 18 from beyond the arc. CMU was 7 of 9 from the line.
A triple from senior Lacee Logan and a layup from senior Devin Griffin gave WT its first lead of the game at 10-9 with 15:06 left and a timeout by the Mavericks, courtesy of a 6-0 run during the last 1:22. Following a turnover by Colorado Mesa, Griffin made 1 of 2 at the line for an 11-9 lead with 14 minutes left in the half.
WT extended its lead to a then-game-high five on a nice breakaway layup from Griffin for a 19-14 lead with 8:30 remaining in the half. Colorado Mesa regained the lead with a 6-0 run as WT missed its last three shots for a 20-19 score with 5:30 left. Two charity tosses by junior Jordan Vessels and the 10th turnover by CMU gave WT the ball back with a 21-20 lead and 5:25 left in the half.
A steal by senior Sally Higgins and foul broke a scoreless drought for both teams of more than five minutes as WT led 23-20 with 30 seconds remaining in the half as the Lady Buffs entered the locker room with the three-point advantage. CMU didn't make a field goal in the final 5:55 of the half.
In a very even half between both teams, WT was 8 of 24 from the field for 33.3 percent. The Lady Buffs really struggled from beyond the arc, going just 1 of 9, but were 6 of 10 from the line. CMU was 8 of 25 from the field, 4 of 14 from the beyond the arc and 0 of 1 from the line. CMU held a 22-16 lead in rebounding, but committed 16 turnovers in the half.
Griffin led all-scorers with nine points on 3 of 6 from the field and 3 of 5 from the line. She also had six rebounds in the half. Junior Chontiquah White added seven points for the Lady Buffs. CMU was led by seven points off the bench from Leanndra Gilbert on 3 of 6 from the field and 1 of 3 from range. Taylor Rock had two triples in the opening half.
A hoop-and-harm foul for White and a pair of layups for Griffin opened a 32-24 lead for WT with 17:41 left in the half as the Lady Buffs opened with a 9-4 run. The Mavericks slowly clawed back as a jumper by Sharaya Selsor with 8:45 left gave CMU its first lead since the first half at 41-40. Griffin scored on the other end.
White was hacked in the lane and made both free throws giving WT a 48-47 lead with six minutes left. From there, the teams basically traded buckets and the lead as the Lady Buffs held a 50-49 lead with 5:21 left and a timeout by the Mavericks.