March 26, 2009

Final Four Highlights: Delta State vs. Franklin Pierce 

Courtesy of (Delta St. Athletics)

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS - For the second year in a row, the Lady Statesmen run at a National Championship in women's basketball was ended one round short of a title shot, falling 58-39 to Franklin Pierce University Wednesday at Bill Greehey Arena on the campus of St. Mary's University.

The Ravens (29-5) out-scored the Lady Statesmen (30-7) 20-10 over the first 13 minutes of the second half, to extend their lead to 49-32, and held Delta State to just seven points over the final seven minutes of the game.

Despite Bug Cooper taking matters into her own hands and leading the Lady Statesmen with ten points, Delta State found themselves trailing 29-22 at halftime.

Franklin Pierce forward Johannah Leedham found ways through the Lady Statesmen defense for 14 points in the first half, and the Ravens shot 44.4-percent from the field.

The Lady Statesmen struggled to find their rhythm offensively, shooting just 10-of-27 as a team. Delta State turned seven Raven turnovers into just one point, while Franklin Pierce took advantage of 10 mistakes for 10 points.

Cooper was held to just two points in the second half, finishing the game with 12 points and only two assists. Veronica Walked added 13 points and five rebounds, but she was the only other player wearing green to score more than four points.

Leedham finished the game with 28 points, and her sister Jennifer Leedham added nine points in the all-England show.

The Ravens finished the game shooting 40.4-percent, and were 6-of-23 from three-point range. The Lady Statesmen made just one shot from behind the arc in 11 attempts.

With the loss came the close of four careers full of memories. Courtney Wilson, Renita Jones, Kirsten McBride and LaMaesha McAdory led the Lady Statesmen to four Gulf South Conference championships, four Sweet 16 appearances, and two consecutive Final Fours. In the end, this senior class amassed 121 wins against 15 loses.

"This senior class has meant so much to me over the last four years. They have fought with everything they have for this program and their efforts have laid a great foundation for the future of this program," stated Lady Statesmen head coach Sandra Rushing.

The Lady Statesmen will return to Cleveland on Thursday from San Antonio. The team is scheduled to arrive late in the afternoon at Walter Sillers Coliseum.