By Brian Hula
In its debut game of the 2014-2015 season, the University of Dallas women’s basketball team lost to the Fort Lewis College Skyhawks 56-53. Despite an impressive rally from a 14-point deficit in the second half, a Crusader three-point attempt to force overtime was blocked, and the Skyhawks took the win.
The game started as a low-scoring affair, but the Skyhawks converted on several fast-break opportunities to take a 26-18 lead at halftime. The Crusaders shot poorly on free throws in the first half, making only five out of 14 attempts. The team drew most of its first-half points from layups and mid-range jumpers. The Crusaders’ first three-pointer did not come until 1:40 was left in the first half.
During the second half, the Crusaders improved their performance on the free-throw line and made several more three-point field goals, but they allowed the Skyhawks several easy fast-break layups. Because of these fast-break chances and many more second-half jump shots, the Skyhawks did not allow the Crusaders to cut into the deficit until the run that started with under seven minutes left in the game.
With the Crusaders trailing 49-35 with 6:22 left in the game, sophomore Sammi Tso made a three-point field goal to spark a 10-0 run that trimmed the deficit to five points. The Skyhawks made a free throw with 2:40 left on the clock to break their scoring drought, but by that point the Crusaders had already pulled within five points of their opponents. The Crusaders were still down by five with under a minute left when Tso and fellow sophomore Seana Stoia each made two free throws on back-to-back possessions to make the score 52-51. Despite a beautiful floater in the paint from UD sophomore Holly Tonry, the Skyhawks made four straight free throws to stretch their lead to three points, 56-53. The Crusaders had the ball with eight seconds left for a chance to force overtime, but the Skyhawks’ frantic full-court defense led to a blocked shot at the buzzer and allowed the visiting team to escape with a narrow win.
The game demonstrated the strength of UD’s team, despite the loss. The women worked well together under pressure, and their second-half comeback was a testament to the depth of the players. Their next games are at home on Nov. 21 and 22 against Elmira College and the University of the Ozarks, respectively.