Shootout In the Centrum Ends In Close Loss for Lady T-Birds
CEDAR CITY, Utah - As the fans began to trickle into the Centrum Arena Saturday afternoon, they knew that they were there to watch the final home game of the 2016-17 season for the Lady T-Birds. They knew this would be the last time that they would be able to see seniors Jessica Richardson and Jamie Smith play basketball in Cedar City. They did not know that they were about to watch Smith set a new career-high with 30 points in the highest scoring game in the Big Sky Conference this season.
“That’s the kind of game you want your seniors to go out on,” head coach Chris Boettcher said after the loss. “Obviously the end result was a little different, but I’m proud of them for stepping up this whole week. The last five or six games they have taken the senior leadership role to a new level and I’m really proud of the way they were able to finish here at home.”
Right out of the gate it was clear this game was going to be different. The Hornets put up 28 points in the first quarter and the Thunderbirds were right behind them with 25. Each team had a whopping 23 field goal attempts in just the first 10 minutes of play.
Things calmed down slightly in the second quarter with just 22 points for the Hornets and 18 for the T-Birds, making it the lowest scoring quarter of the game. Sacramento State led for a majority of the first half but were never able to extend their lead to more than nine points. At halftime, SUU trailed by just seven points with a score of 43-50.
Neither team showed any signs of fatigue when they came back from the locker room. The Thunderbirds came out and eclipsed their season record for points in a half. They shot 52.4 percent from the floor on their way to 61 points in the second half. They used a 17-2 run in the fourth quarter to pull within two points of the lead with six minutes left to play.
Despite the second half offensive explosion from the Thunderbirds the Hornets never folded, scoring 60 points of their own and maintaining their lead the entire time. The game came to an end with the Hornets escaping with a 110-104 victory. This is the first time the Thunderbirds have reached the 100 point mark since December of 2013.
In their last game in the Centrum Arena, Richardson and Smith were huge reasons the Thunderbirds were able to keep the game as close as they did. After setting a career-high with 21 points against Utah State earlier this season, Smith set a new mark with 30 points on Saturday. She was 11 for 18 from the field including six three-point buckets. Richardson came close to setting a new career-high herself as she finished with 21 points. She also had nine rebounds and was 11 for 14 from the freethrow line.
Darri Frandsen continued her stellar season with her tenth double-double, finishing with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Rebecca Cardenas flirted with double-digits in multiple categories as she finished with 15 points, eight rebounds, eight steals, and seven assists.
The Lady T-Birds will hit the road next week for their final games of the regular season.
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Big Sky Conference Championship TournamentYou can now purchase your tickets to the Big Sky Conference Championship Tournament. The tournament starts on March 6th in Reno, Nevada. Get your tickets at tbirdtickets.com.