Saints edge Falcons in conference tournament

FROM STAFF REPORTS

COLUMBUS, Ga. – The University of Montevallo women’s basketball team fell to Flagler College 72-67 in the Peach Belt Conference tournament quarterfinals Thursday, March 7 at the Frank G. Lumpkin Center on the Columbus State University campus.

The loss ended the Falcons’ record-setting season, which saw the team post a NCAA Division II era record 17 overall wins and 12 conference wins.

“I’m really proud of our team,” said Montevallo women’s basketball coach Cindy Hilbrich. “It’s all because of the people in our program.”

The Falcons rallied from a nine-point deficit in the final two minutes to cut the Saints’ lead to 68-66 with 27 seconds remaining following three free throws by Thompson. However, Flagler College drained 4-of-6 attempts from the free-throw line in the final 30 seconds to hold off the Falcons.

“This team has never given up all year,” Hilbrich said. “Our kids didn’t quit.”

Freshman Jacquelyn Thompson led the Falcons (17-12 overall, 12-7  in Peach Belt Conference) with 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the floor, including 3-of-6 from beyond the arc.

Seniors Trena Moore-Smith and Zena Nasiloski added 13 points for Montevallo, the No. 2 seed in the West Division, in the quarterfinal loss to the Saints, who entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed in the East Division.

Moore-Smith also fished with a game-high four assists and finished with a game-high four steals. Nasiloski, who finished 5-of-10 from the floor and 3-of-5 at the charity stripe, added nine rebounds and two assists.

Senior Alex Strickland and sophomore Taylor Beverly added 11 points each. Beverly also grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds as she posted her 13th double-double of the season, which leads the Peach Belt Conference.

Junior Shay Bonner contributed three points and three rebounds, while senior Carolyn Taite grabbed three boards off the bench.

Williesha “Shorty” Spencer led the Saints (15-12) with 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the floor.

The Saints used a 12-2 run late in the opening half to open up a 32-21 advantage with 2:39 remaining in the half following a jumper by Spencer.

The Falcons responded with a 11-2 run to end the half. Montevallo cut the deficit to 34-31 heading into the locker room at halftime following a three-point play by Nasiloski in the final second of the half.

Thompson drained a 3-pointer with 15:23 left in the second half to give the Falcons a 37-36 lead, their first lead since the game’s opening minutes. Moore-Smith added a pair of free throws to push the lead to 39-36 with 14:55 left in the game.

Flagler took back the lead with a 5-0 run, capped with a 3-pointer by Spencer. The Saints led by as many as nine points down the stretch following a free throw by Jen Knurek with 1:36 remaining in the game.