After struggling with consecutive home losses, the women’s basketball team look for a win against Delta State on Jan. 22, and Mississippi College on Jan. 24.
Following a devastating loss to West Georgia, the Tigers armored themselves to take on the Delta Statesmen on Thursday, Jan. 22. However, the result wouldn’t be in the Tigers’ favor.
In the first half, both teams battled to take the lead, both sporting a 52 shot percentage from the floor in the first half. However, the Statesmen took the lead with 32-29 before the half. The Tigers were able to convert 13 of 25 three-point attempts, despite a scoring drought for six minutes.
The Statesmen took advantage of the drought. DSU’s own Seneca Walton and Chelsey Rhodes combined for 47 points to take a 72-64 Gulf South Conference victory. Walton posted 24 points and Rhodes with 23, to help improve Delta to 7-5 in GSC.
“When Rhodes and Walton are on, Delta State is going to beat a lot of people,” head coach Rusty Cram said. “Players like them are why they were the preseason favorite to win the GSC.”
The drought continued on to the second half for the Tigers, with an exception of a 1 of 10 three-point attempt to start the second half.
With the advantage in their favor, the Statesmen extended the lead to 19 points with only nine minutes left to play. However, UWA wasn’t going down without a fight.
The Tigers cut down the lead to four points, making the score 67-63, from senior Malaka Johnson’s shot with less than a minute left. Despite the late rally, UWA wouldn’t get any closer than that.
“You can’t compete if you don’t play 40 minutes. You just can’t pick and choose when you are going to play,” siad Cram. “We played well for 29-30 minutes and were non-existent for the other 10-11 minutes, and they got hot.”
The Tigers finished with only 52 percent in the first half and 48 percent on free-throw attempts, while Delta shot 55 percent.
“That was a pathetic performance at the free throw line,” Cram said. “If we can make 75 percent of our free throws we can win the basketball game. We have let four or five games get away at the line this year.”
Senior Britney McCloud and senior Kelcia Bufkin both scored 18 points apiece to contribute to UWA’s late rally, to lead UWA’s scoring. Junior Latisha McCullum also contributed with 10 points. Malaka Johnson made five rebounds to assist.
The Tigers wrap up their home game stretch on Saturday, Jan. 24, against Mississippi College at 2 p.m.
On the last home game of the five-home game stretch, the Tigers readied themselves to take on MC to pull out a win.
And a win would be just what the Tigers would get.
Senior Britney McCloud scored a career high of 28 points and recorded her third double-double to lead UWA to a GSC victory against MC.
McCloud held 11 rebounds and converted 11 of 21 three-point attempts, which contributed to UWA’s improved record to 8-9 overall and 5-8 in GSC.
“We made some adjustments at the half that helped us,” Cram said. “We got the right personnel in there against their press, started finishing on the offensive end and playing smarter on defense.”
Though UWA took the win, MC was still able to limit the Tigers to a 29 shooting percentage from the floor in the first half, to take the lead 28-26.
“The key was getting to the free throw line, and I thought we adjusted well to a team that changed defenses almost every trip down the floor,” commented Cram. “We have to continue to push for that complete 40 minute game, but we are getting closer to it and never have quit.”
With a 56 percentage for free throws in the last five games, UWA made 20 for 28, while the Choctaws only held 44 percent.
Senior Bufkin was the only Tiger to hold double figures with 14 points. In addition, sophomore Brianna Davidson posted seven points and five rebounds in 11 minutes after coming off the bench.
In a nod to the opposition, MC’s own Ashley Minor hit 15 points to lead her team, while Kirtsen Sampson contributed 12 and Mollie Blair with 11.
Even with double figures from three players, the Choctaws couldn’t compete with the Tigers’ pace as they looked to avenge a series of home losses.
The Tigers now look ahead as they prep for the road to meet up with state rival North Alabama on Thursday, Jan. 29, at 5:20 p.m.