Written by Jim Surface
Megaphone Staff Writer
The Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament did not treat either the men’s or women’s basketball teams well this year.
After the men split conference games at home against Hendrix and Millsaps, they needed two consecutive victories to insure a berth in the conference tournament.
On Friday, Feb. 22 the Bucs traveled to Colorado Springs to face the winless Colorado College Tigers. Pirates’ sophomore Zach Bergstrom led the team with 12 points, shooting 3-6 from the three-point arc, while seniors Mike Powell and Ben Schleif each reached double digits with 11 and 10 points respectively, as Southwestern eked out a 72-71 victory to keep Colorado College winless.
Two days later, the team traveled to Sherman, Texas, needing only a win to secure the final spot in the SCAC tournament. They fell short, losing to the Austin College Kangaroos 67-64 – despite leading 36-32 at the half and double-digit points from Mike Powell (16), Matt Caplan (12) and Zach Bergstrom (11).
That left the Bucs in the hands of fate, as a coin flip was used to determine whether they or Austin College would advance to the tournament. Southwestern lost the coin flip and thus ended the season at 11-14 overall and 6-9 in the SCAC.
The Lady Pirates needed only one win in their final two games to secure a spot in the SCAC tournament, beginning with a trip to Colorado Springs to take on the Colorado College Lady Tigers, ranked second in the SCAC.
The game was tight early as both teams shot well in the first half, but Southwestern got behind late, missed too many clutch shots in crunch time, and fell by the score 68-57, despite an impressive double-double by Beth Thomas, her second in as many games. Thomas poured in 14 points and grabbed 11 boards, while Natashi Azizi and Jessica Hoch had 11 and 10 respectively for the Lady Bucs who shot just 37.3 percent (19-51) from the field.
At Austin College a couple days later, the Lady Pirates lost yet again 58-45. The Lady Kangaroos took a commanding lead early, going on a 7-0 run to start the first half and at one point leading 11-2. Southwestern battled back, however, and actually led at half time by one, but a 13-0 run by the Roos put the Lady Bucs away in the second half.
Natasha Azizi and Molly Mitchell had nine points apiece, while Jessica Herbst added eight. Despite the loss, the Lady Pirates were headed to the SCAC tournament anyways to face defending national champion DePauw University.
DePauw quickly doused the Pirates’ hopes with an 11-0 run early in the first to boost their lead to 19-6 and Southwestern was not close after that. The sharp shooting Tigers were 29-54 (53.7%) on field goals and simply out-shot the Bucs, ending the latter’s season.
Despite the early exit, the Lady Pirates remain proud of their accomplishments this year and look forward, excited by the prospects next season may bring.
“It’s never a good feeling when the season ends, but the work that we accomplished will carry on to next season and we will start off next year where we ended this year,” sophomore guard Jessica Herbst said. If so, Southwestern women’s basketball has a bright future.