TYLER – They needed just one more defensive stop, and they'd play for a conference championship on Monday.
It was do-able. After all, the Lady Roadrunners' defense had forced a Tyler shot clock violation with just 38 seconds remaining in the game. That stop led to Tyeka Ranton's go-ahead bucket with just 17 ticks remaining to give Angelina College a 75-74 lead.
But Lady Apache Latika Smith found an opening in the lane just seven seconds later and hit a layup to end the Lady ‘Runners season with a 76-75 Tyler win Sunday in the Region XIV semifinals from the University of Texas-Tyler's Herrington Patriot Center.
AC had one final chance to pull out the win – actually, they got four shots – but Donia Naylor's put back came a split second after the final buzzer sounded, leaving several Lady Roadrunners sprawled on the floor in exhaustion and disbelief.
Ranton led all scorers with 22 points, adding 10 rebounds and three assists. Naylor added 17 points and eight boards, and Marcy Robinson slashed her way to 15 points and four assists.
Tyler got 15 points from Katelyn Bernsen, who hit three of her seven three-point attempts in the win. Ervette Powell scored 15 and Britney Joseph 10 to lead the Lady Apaches into Monday's championship round against Trinity Valley, 83-66 winners over Paris in earlier action.
The stat that may come back to haunt the Lady ‘Runners is the 25 turnovers – five of those coming from offensive fouls – committed, a number usually sitting on the opponent's side of the score sheet. Tyler, on the other hand, turned the ball over just 14 times, well short of the defensive damage AC forced on Lon Morris in Friday's win when the Lady Bearcats committed 28 turnovers in the Lady ‘Runners' 78-48 win.
On Sunday, AC couldn't seem to find the same defensive rhythm despite building an 11-point lead midway through the first half. That lead would dwindle to six points by the mid-point break, but that was the biggest lead the Lady Roadrunners would enjoy the rest of the game. Tyler took a 59-58 lead on Powell's free throw at the 8:34 mark; but AC wouldn't see another lead until Ranton's bucket with 17 seconds to play.
And when the Lady Roadrunners couldn't make the one, final stop they needed on Smith's drive, a record-breaking season came to an end.
AC finished the 2009-2010 campaign at 26-6, setting the record for wins in a season.