SAN ANTONIO (March 1, 2014) – The Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) women's basketball team captured the Red River Athletic Conference regular season title and an automatic berth to the NAIA DI Women's Basketball National Tournament in Kentucky after defeating LSU-Shreveport 85-69 Saturday evening at Mabee Gymnasium.
The win ends the Saints' regular season with a 16-2 Red River Athletic Conference record and 26-3 overall, while the Lady Pilots drop to 9-9 in conference and 17-12 overall. The Saints will be the No. 1 seed and Wiley College (16-2/27-3) the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament semifinals. No. 3 seed Langston University (13-5/18-11) will host No. 6 seed LSU-Shreveport on March 4, while No. 4 Jarvis Christian College (10-8/14-8) will host No. 5 Huston-Tillotson University (10-8/12-14) for the quarterfinals. The Saints will play the lowest remaining seed at 1 p.m. on March 7. Wiley will play the highest remaining seed at 6 p.m. on March 7. On March 8, the championship game will take place at 2 p.m. Both days' games will be held at East Texas Baptist University in Marshall, Texas. All Saints games will be live streamed.
Head Coach Christopher Minner said, "I am happy for the players. This game was a little less traumatic that last night's game (against Wiley). The key this season is that we don't have any drama in the program, but I am tough, and they put up with me, so I am happy for them. We still want to win the conference tournament and the national tournament, so we are not done. This is the first time we have won the regular season and our third consecutive time going to the national tournament -- not a lot of teams do that. I've been here for every game. I've got good players, and smart players and players who care and who stay focused."
The Saints took a 3-0 lead after Rebecca Kolawole (JR, Rowlett, Texas) sank a 3-pointer. Chelsea Solis (SR, San Antonio, Texas) made a basket and Lauren Rubio (SO, San Antonio, Texas) – starting in place of Nashae Owens (JR, Pearland, Texas) who suffered a serious injury yesterday – found the net from 3-point range to go up 8-0. At the 14th minute, the Lady Pilots were finally able to find the basket on a shot from Jenna Diakos. A 3-pointer from Kiara Taylor got them to within four, but the Saints shot back to take a 12-point lead after seven minutes at 27-15. LSU-S could not catch up to the Saints as they continued their double-digit lead with 40 seconds remaining in the game after Rubio shot another 3-pointer. A free throw from Taylor ended the half with the Lady Pilots trailing 41-30.
|Saints Reporter Martin Hansson talks with|
Head Coach Christopher Minner after the game.
The Saints continued the momentum through the second half as they maintained their double-digit lead through the majority of the period. With 10 minutes left in the game, a 3-pointer from Solis took the Saints to 62-42 and two minutes later, Kolawole gave the Saints their biggest lead at 67-44. After a foul from Ciaira Briseno (FR, McAllen, Texas) that sent Shanovia Gamblin to the free-throw line, the game ended with the Saints winning 85-69.
Solis finished with a season high 19 points, including 6-of-14 from the field, 3-of-8 from 3-point range and 4-of-4 from the free-throw line.
Coach Minner commented, "Solis has been solid. She got here three years ago, and we have made the nationals three years in row, so that says something. She works very hard, and I'm on her a lot, but she has come through and she is solid. Plus, she's a great student -- she's going to be very successful one day."
Kolawole also scored 19 points, including 7-of-14 from the field, 3-of-6 from 3-point range and 2-of-4 from the free-throw line.
The team shot 41 percent from the field, 41 percent from 3-point range and 74 percent from the free-throw line.
LSU, who played six players in the whole game, shot 38 percent from the field, 33 percent from the field and 68 percent from the free-throw line. Ariel Harrell scored 20 points, while Gamblin finished with 14, Dominique Taylor with 12 and Diakos with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
In addition, prior to the men's game, seniors Ornela Bacchini (SR, Buenos Aires, Argentina), Sam Offord (SR, Kaufman, Texas), Sequestiny O'Neal (SR, Midland, Texas) and Chelsea Solis were honored. Each received a vase of flowers and a Saints commemorative basket, while family members joined them at mid-court.