Redhawks Season Concludes in OVC First Round
March 3, 2009
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Tuesday, March 3, 2009) - One of the greatest four-year runs by a Redhawks team came to an end on Tuesday night at the Gentry Center as the Redhawks women's basketball team fell in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament First Round game 77-66 to No. 3 seed Tennessee State. With the loss seniors Tarina Nixon, Sonya Daugherty, Rachel Blunt, Szandra Pal, Crysta Glenn, Tierra Johnson and Mathilde Dufour close their careers as the cornerstones of an era in which the Redhawks won two Ohio Valley Conference championships, one NCAA Tournament berth and a WNIT berth.
A closely competed game throughout, Nixon nailed a jumper to tie the game at 55-all with 7:38 to complete a second half comeback that saw the Lady Tigers (18-12) jump ahead by as much as eight points to start the second half. However the Redhawks (15-15), playing without Head Coach John Ishee on the sidelines, momentum was halted when Nixon went out with a knee injury at moments later.
The Lady Tigers then regained a five point advantage, 61-56 with 5:05 left. Sophomore Lauren Sharpe nailed a three-pointer from the corner to make it a two-point game but the Lady Tigers answered with back-to-back three-pointers including a dagger by All-OVC selection Kendra Appling with 3:13 to extend the lead to eight, 67-59. From there the Lady Tigers sealed the win with free throws as they sank eight of their nine attempts in the final minute to advance to the OVC Tournament semifinals for the first time since 1996.
After being blown out six days ago by the Lady Tigers on the same court it appeared that would be the case as the game opened with the Lady Tigers jumping out to a quick 12-4 lead in the game's opening three minutes. The Redhawks then went on a 15-4 run to grab their first lead of the game, 19-16 with 9:25 left in the opening stanza.
Nixon scored seven of those 15 points and the defense forced four turnovers in that span.
The Lady Tigers would later tie the game up twice but the Redhawks responded with a 7-2 run capped by a Nixon trey to grab their largest lead of the game, 28-23 with 6:41 left in the half.
Again the Lady Tigers fought back and tied the game and eventually took back the lead for good on Tiffany Jackson's lay-in at the five minute mark and they went ahead by as much as five, 37-32 on consecutive Jackson scores but the Redhawks cut the lead back to one, 37-36 on Rachel Blunt's jumper with 1:42. Nikki Rumph's lay-in with seven second remaining gave the Lady Tigers a 39-36 at the half.
The Redhawks were done in by 21 turnovers that led 29 points, 18 Lady Tigers fast break points, a 36-22 disadvantage in points in the paint and the Lady Tigers finishing a 52-percent field goal percentage including 55-percent in the opening half.
The Redhawks did win the battle of the boards 36-32 (15 offensive rebounds) which led to a 20-5 advantage in second chance points but were undone by a dismal 32-percent second half field goal percentage.
Nixon finished her career with a team-high 14 points on 6-11 shooting. She drained two three-pointers leaving her five short of Julie Meier for the career three-pointers made school record. She moved to seventh on the career assists mark and finished her career ranked fifth in steals and 12th on the career scoring list with 1,151 points.
Blunt finished with 12 points in her final game making 5-9 of her shots including a perfect 2-2 from behind the three-point line. She also added a game-high eight rebounds.
Freshman Bianca Beck matched her career-best with 11 points off the bench as she went 2-4 from the field and made six of her seven free throws. She also tied her career-high with five assists.
Daugherty scored all of her nine points in the first half and recorded five rebounds and five assists. She concludes her career with 1,169 points which ranks 10th on the school's chart. She also finished in the top-ten in career steals and three-pointers made and ranks 11th in career assists.
Glenn added seven points and five rebounds in her final game. Junior Lesley Adams scored six points on 2-2 shooting from the field and the charity stripe. She also had six rebounds with four of those rebounds coming on the offensive end.
The Lady Tigers were led by Jackson's game-high 17 points (13 in the first half). She also added four steals. Jasmine Smith chipped in 16 points on 5-8 shooting and recorded eight rebounds. Appling, the OVC's third leading scorer at 17.8 ppg, was held to 10 points but did damage with her late three and six rebounds, five assists and four steals.
This is the first time the Redhawks have failed to advance past the OVC first round since the 2002 OVC Tournament.