KATY, Texas - A trip to the NCAA Tournament and a Southland Conference Tournament title came up just short for the Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks, falling 60-56 to McNeese State Friday evening at the Leonard E. Merrell Center.
SFA (23-9) will not see their season come to an end quite yet, having already been guaranteed a spot in the Women's Basketball Invitational.
Four Ladyjacks scored in double-figures, including a team-high 12 points a piece from Brittney Matthew and Annette Davis. The Ladyjacks also got 11-point performances from both Porsha Roberts and Ashlee Mells.
Both Mells and senior Tammara Marion were also both named to the Southland Conference All-Tournament.
SFA rallied late to tie the game on a 3-pointer from Marion from the left corner, tying the contest at 56-56 with 1:27 left to play. Matthew then stole the ball from Caitlyn Baggett with 1:04 remaining and was fouled by Baggett, putting Matthew at the free throw line for a 1-and-1.
Unfortunately Matthew missed the free throw and although SFA's Courtney Conwright got the offensive rebound, her foot barely grazed the baseline out of bounds and turned the ball back over to the Cowgirls.
Caitlyn Baggett then drew a foul on Amina Sawyer with 19 seconds remaining and surprisingly missed both free throws but the Cowgirls' Kendra Wells was able to chase down the offensive rebound and Baggett took advantage by drawing another foul with five seconds left.
This time Baggett sunk both free throws, giving McNeese a 58-56 lead with.
Out of a timeout, SFA pushed the ball up the court to Sawyer, who in turn passed the ball to Roberts but the SLC Freshman of the Year threw the ball out of bounds with just two seconds remaining.
SFA was then forced to foul and Caitlyn Baggett sunk two more free throws, giving her a game-high 21 points, to clinch the championship.
The Ladyjacks went into the locker room at halftime trailing 29-24 after getting off to a solid start and capturing an early 8-2 lead. However, the SFA offense struggled mightily from 3-point territory in the first 20 minutes, missing all 10 of their attempts and the team went nearly six minutes (9:54-3:58) without a field goal before a Mells jumper made the score 25-18 in favor of the Cowgirls.
During that SFA offensive funk, Caitlyn Baggett took control of the game by scoring 14 points in the first half on 5-of-11 shooting and 3-of-4 from beyond the arch. McNeese State opened up a 27-18 lead with 3:32 left in the half on a Raiywana Gatlin jumper but the Ladyjacks closed the first half on a 6-2 run.