By Brian Hula
The University of Dallas women’s basketball team split two games this week against Arlington Baptist College and Austin College to finish the regular season at 14-11 overall and 7-7 in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference. The Crusaders dropped Thursday’s game against Arlington Baptist by a score of 78-73 but engineered a remarkable comeback on Senior Night against Austin College to win the game 90-81.
The Crusaders opened Thursday’s game poorly, facing a 7-2 deficit with just two minutes gone by in the half. However, sophomore point guard Sammi Tso hit two three-pointers to spark a 12-4 run for the Crusaders, who then claimed a 16-11 lead. But Dallas could not build upon this advantage, and the game remained close for the remainder of the half. The teams exchanged the lead 10 times over the remainder of the half before the Patriots of Arlington Baptist outscored the Crusaders 4-0 in the last minute of the half to claim a close 40-36 lead going into the locker room.
Despite an impressive offensive performance from sophomore Seana Stoia, who scored the Crusader’s first seven points of the half, the Patriots built a 51-41 lead with 16 minutes left to play. Yet the Crusaders stubbornly kept within striking distance until they found themselves down by only four points, 66-62, with 2:42 remaining in the game. With 60 seconds left to play, the Crusaders faced a deficit of six points, 71-65. The last minute of play was suspenseful until the very end, as the two teams combined to score a total of 15 points. After three costly layups by the Patriots, senior forward Brooke Hagemann nailed a three-point basket to bring the Crusaders within four points, 77-73, with only 19 seconds left. Although the navy and white nearly forced a steal on the inbounds pass, the Patriots survived the final seconds and the Crusaders fell by a score of 78-73.
Stoia had a double-double and led the team in scoring, recording 18 points and 10 rebounds. The Crusaders spent most of the game navigating an aggressive press by the Patriots. Even though the navy and white did well overall in facing Arlington Baptist’s aggressive defense, the UD women were still forced into several turnovers at crucial points in the game. The Crusaders struggled to score in the paint because of the formidable defense of Patriot forward Rosalyn Thorpe, listed at 6 feet 5 inches, who recorded seven blocks during the evening. Freshman forward Michelle DeCoud said that “lack of communication on defense” was what contributed most to the loss.
Saturday’s contest against Austin College was Senior Night. Before the game, the team honored four seniors — Briana Bricher, Marleyna Bustamante, Chelsea Cole and Brooke Hagemann — who had left their mark on the program. UD struggled to score in the first minutes of the game, while the ‘Roos of Austin College began the game by hitting five of their first seven shots en route to a 14-3 lead. Even though the Crusaders began to find their rhythm on offense, the ‘Roos continued their accurate shooting and maintained a double-digit lead for much of the first period. A strong offensive performance by Bustamante and freshman Jessica Foster in the closing minutes of the half allowed the Crusaders to cut the deficit to seven points, 50-43, going into the locker room.
The Austin College women maintained their lead throughout the first 10 minutes of the half and led 68-60 with 10 minutes remaining in the contest. At that point, the UD women embarked on a 10-2 scoring run thanks to the offensive efforts of Hagemann and Bustamante. From then onwards, the two seniors continued their stellar performances with help from Tso, who hit three-pointers on two back-to-back offensive possessions. Hagemann made four free throws in the final minute of play to ice the game for the Crusaders, who came back from a 15-point deficit in the first half to win the game 90-81.
Even though the ‘Roos were incredibly accurate in the first half of the game, they were unable to continue their offensive production through all 40 minutes of play. The defensive efforts of the Crusaders in the last 20 minutes of the game, particularly their effective full-court press, was what began to shift the game’s momentum. Hagemann said that “defense was the team’s priority” in the second half. DeCoud credited the Crusader’s depth, saying that the team “wore out” the ‘Roos as time went on. Appropriately, seniors Hagemann and Bustamante led the team on the offensive end of the floor, recording 21 and 20 points, respectively.
In her last regular-season game as a Crusader, Hagemann said that it was “amazing” to play in front of her entire family.
“They have always supported me and it means a lot to have a little fan club and be able to show my nieces and nephews the passion I have for basketball,” she said.