With spring break in full swing and March Madness in high gear, the Lady Hornet basketball team was focused on the NCAA Division II Central Regional Championship game against the Augustana Vikings March 18 in Topeka.
Despite coming back from a double-digit deficit, the Hornets fell short by two free throws with just .7 seconds left in the game, losing 74-75. Head Coach Jory Collins addressed his time in the locker room following the heartbreaking loss.
“I couldn’t be more proud to coach this group of players,” Collins said. “I appreciate (the team) hanging in there when it didn’t look very good right after Christmastime, but we stuck with it and we didn’t change anything. We just tried to do what we do a little bit better.”
With just over two minutes left in the first half, the Hornets found themselves trailing by 15 points. This is when they started a 7-2 run just before the half and started off well in the second with a 12-2 run to pull within one point of the Vikings.
From there, neither team could gain a comfortable lead, according to the Emporia State website. The lead changed nine times in the last six minutes of the game. With less than a minute left, junior forward Rheanna Egli drained two free throws to put the Hornets up 72-69. A foul sent the Vikings to the line, and the Hornets found themselves up by only one point.
A couple seconds and a few fouls later, the Hornets maintained their one point lead. After a forced miss for the Vikings with just .7 seconds left, a foul was called on the ESU after a video review. Viking Alex Feeney made both free throws to win the game.
Merissa Quick, sophomore forward, and Rachel Hanf, senior guard, both had over 15 points in the game, and Laura Patrick, junior guard, added 14 points. The Hornets tied their own MIAA record for free throws, making 23 for 23.
“Even though we started out a little slow, we were able to get back in the game,” Quick, undecided major, said. “We are worked hard and we played well, but it was disappointing to lose that way.”
Quick ended her sophomore season with almost 340 points, averaging 11.7 per game.
Even though they could not pull out the win in the championship, the Lady Hornets finished the season 23-9. Eight players will rejoin the lineup for next year.