From SFA Athletics
DENTON, TX (Press Release)- The Stephen F. Austin women’s basketball team nearly pulled off one of the biggest comebacks in recent program history, erasing a 17-point deficit in the second half against IUPUI on Friday night at the University of North Texas Hospitality Hill Tournament. Despite the resilient effort, the Ladyjacks came up just short in overtime, 62-55.
Trailing by 17 (36-19) with 7:14 to play in the third quarter, SFA generated a frantic 31-7 run over the next 14:20 to turn the tables. When the dust settled, the Ladyjacks had their biggest lead of the game at 50-43 with just under three minutes to play in regulation.
The Jaguars were able to regain a bit of momentum down the stretch, however, closing the fourth quarter on a 7-0 spurt to force overtime with the teams all square at 50-50.
IUPUI jumped out in front 58-52 in the overtime period and hit just enough free throws to secure the win, 62-55.
Despite being hampered with foul trouble most of the evening, junior guard Taylor Ross still managed to score 10 points on 5-for-14 shooting. She was joined in double figures by junior guard Brentney Branch, who contributed 10 points off the bench by way of a 4-for-9 shooting night.
The duo has combined to average 31.3 points per game over the last three contests – just under 50 percent of the Ladyjacks’ total scoring during the span.
Junior center Adrienne Lewis and freshman guard Kennedy Harris each tallied seven points on the night while sophomore forward Stevi Parker and senior guard Taylor Schippers added six apiece. Parker also grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds to give her double-digit boards for the third time in the last four games.
The late Ladyjack rally started with a 9-0 flurry midway through the third quarter after the Jaguars built their biggest lead of the game at 36-19. Ross and Lewis banked home consecutive layups, Harris drilled a corner three and Branch capitalized on a fast break opportunity to cut the SFA deficit to 36-28. The entire run came in a 1:49 span.
Branch splashed in her only three-point attempt with 2:07 to play in the third and hit a jumper with 21 seconds remaining to help SFA end the frame on an 8-0 run and come within two, 41-39.
In the third quarter alone, SFA shot an incredible 90.0 percent (9-for-10) from the field and fired at a perfect 3-for-3 clip from deep.
The momentum continued into the final 10 minutes of regulation. Ross fought her way through three defenders and knocked in a left-handed runner with 7:46 to play to give SFA its first lead of the game, 42-41. She later kissed another shot off the glass to cap a 19-2 surge and give the Ladyjacks their biggest lead, 50-43, with 2:54 on the clock.
The Ladyjacks created several good looks in the first half but struggled to get shots to fall, shooting 25.0 percent from the field (6-for-24). After senior Paulletta Powell knocked down a three to make it 9-7 in favor of IUPUI, the Jaguars went on a 7-0 run to end the first quarter with a 16-7 advantage.
A mid-range jumper and a deep three-pointer in back-to-back possessions by Schippers in the second quarter helped keep SFA in the game, down 23-14. From there, IUPUI closed the half on an 8-2 run to take a 31-16 lead into the break.
Both teams were active defensively over the course of the night. SFA forced 27 turnovers but gave the ball away a season-high 28 times on the other end. The Ladyjacks stepped in and took 10 charges with Parker leading the way with five. She has 17 charges to her name this year.
The Ladyjacks will conclude the UNT Hospitality Hill Tournament on Saturday afternoon against Weber State inside The Super Pit. Tipoff is scheduled for 12:00 p.m.