COLLEGE PARK, MD. — And that’s it.
The 11th-seeded women’s basketball team’s season came to an end Sunday night with a 61-54 loss to No. 6 Arizona State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at the Comcast Center.
Like she’s done all season, senior guard Ashley Morris lead the way with 21 points for the Owls. Senior center Lady Comfort chipped in 11 points, but no other Owl reached double-figures. The team also committed 19 turnovers and hit just one three-point basket.
While the game was tied at halftime, the Sun Devils exploded out of the gate in the second half for a 13-0 run. The Owls climbed to within six in the late stages of the game, but it was evident that Arizona State’s timely spurt was the final nail in the coffin of the Owls’ 2007-2008 season.
“I thought we lost it on the defensive end,” coach Dawn Staley said. “I think it was more so of just a little mental breakdown defensively … But we got beat by a very good basketball team that kept the pressure on us all night.”
It was yet another tough night offensively for the Owls, as well.
While the team did shoot a respectable 45 percent from the field, they only shot 65 percent from the foul line and had several possessions take up almost all of the 30 seconds on the shot clock. That resulted in Morris doing more work than she needed to.
“I think everyone just sat around, watching [Morris] go to work,” Staley said. “I told our team that we lost our heart and soul of our basketball team … She was it.”
But, despite the hole the Owls put themselves in on the offensive end, they still had a chance to come back.
As they tried to cut into the lead, but ultimately couldn’t, frustration began to set in as the seconds on the clock slowly ticked away.
“It was a little [frustrating] at the end,” Comfort said. “We knew we could come back, down 10, down eight, but [a] last minute turnover kind of turned it around for us. Mentally, I think we just broke down.”
The turnover by freshman guard Lindsay Kimmel that Comfort alluded to essentially put an end to the careers of Morris, Comfort, and fellow seniors Candice Borrows and Nicole Pittman.
The question for them now is, what’s next?
“I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself,” Morris said. “All I want to do is play basketball. I don’t know.”
The Owls finished the season with a 21-13 record … The crowd was mostly filled with leftover Maryland fans, though Temple had the larger fan group there, including a handful of students … Had the Owls won the game, they would have advanced to play No. 3 Duke, who beat No. 14 Murray State, 78-57.
Todd Orodenker can be reached at email@example.com.
(Photo by Kevin Cook)