ABILENE, Texas – McMurry University’s women’s basketball team battled St. Edward’s University – one of three Heartland Conference teams without a conference loss – strong for the entire game, before eventually falling by a 55-51 count at Kimbrell Arena. The loss dropped the War Hawks to 2-9 overall and 2-3 in the Heartland, while the Hilltoppers improved to 10-1 and 5-0 in league action.
“Both teams played hard,” McM head coach Veronica Snow said. “Both teams stepped up and made things happen. They just made a couple more buckets at key times and we had opportunities and didn’t make baskets.”
The first half had a total of three ties and three lead changes during the nip-and-tuck opening segment. SEU’s largest lead was seven points – 26-19 – with 3:42 left in the half, after McM had held a four-point cushion (11-7) early on.
The War Hawks chiseled away at the Hilltoppers lead and tied the game at the intermission, thanks to a 7-0 run to close out the segment. Senior forward Keshia Collins tallied five of those points – Jaryn Koenig had the other two – as McM knotted matters at 26-26 heading into the locker room.
SEU scored the opening points of the second half and never trailed again, but that doesn’t mean that the visitors did not have some anxious moments, compliments of McMurry’s refusal to yield. The final 20 minutes had three ties, all in the first four minutes.
With just 1:44 left in the game, Collins took a perfect feed from Ana Dominguez and made a layup that cut the deficit to 49-48. But McM would get no closer as the Hilltoppers withstood the late charge for the 55-51 final.
“I was so proud of how we executed,” Snow added. “Defensively, we held their leading scorer (Maddie Wheeler) to just four points and had a lot of players step up.”
The 55 points was by far the lowest point total an opponent has permitted to the potent SEU offense all season. Previously, the Hilltoppers low mark for scoring was 64 points in wins over Rogers State and Huston-Tillotson.
Collins was McMurry’s lone double-figure scorer with 18 points on an 8-for-20 night from the field. She also grabbed a team-leading seven rebounds and added a pair of assists, as well.
Sophomore guard Sierra Maykus had nine points and two assists. Junior transfer Tineka Lawson also scored nine points – while pulling down five boards – off of the bench. Dominguez had a well-rounded effort of eight points, six rebounds and three blocked shots.
As a team, McMurry dominated the rebounding category, holding a 48-30 edge on the glass. Collins, Dominguez, Tory Salazar, Taylor Russell, Lawson and Koenig all had five or more caroms in the game.
Salazar had led all players with three assists.
The War Hawks’ ability to take control resulted in a 28-22 lead on points in the paint and a 15-5 difference in second chance points.
McMurry will next play on the road on Thursday (Jan. 9) at Texas A&M International University. Tipoff in Laredo is at 5:30 p.m.