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Lady Warriors run out of gas in nationals

By By Marty Stamper/The Meridian Star
March 23, 2001
SALINA, Kan. When Sammy Pace looks back on his 2000-2001 East Central Community College Lady Warriors basketball team years from now, you can bet he'll remember them for how they played the first half of Thursday morning's game with Central Arizona College, not how it fared over the final 20 minutes.
Central Arizona, which entered the 16-team tournament seeded No. 2 before a first-round upset loss, used a 61-20 differential in the second half to take a 102-61 victory in the elimination game in the Bicentennial Center.
Severely outsized from the beginning and with players dropping like flies throughout the contest, the Lady Warriors gave the Vaqueras all they wanted in the first half.
CAC scored the game's first six points before the Lady Warriors went on a 10-0 run to go up 10-6 with 16:30 to go in the first half.
With 15:25 showing, KeKe Strambler hit a 3-pointer to put CAC up 12-10. ECCC's Sophia Reed went down with an ankle injury on the play. Although she later returned out of sheer necessity, Reed was never the same.
The Vaqueras, who were an inept 1-of-16 from 3-point range in a first-round loss to Cincinnati (Ohio) State, got three more trifectas over the next four minutes to stretch out to a 25-17 advantage.
For the game, CAC made 10-of-15 3s.
A three-point play from Nikki Lacour and a 3-pointer from Anna Udicova pulled ECCC to within 25-23 with 10:39 left in the first half.
Trailing 29-25, the Lady Warriors lost Margo Porter and her 16.3 ppg average with an injury to her left knee. She was unable to return.
Reed reentered with a noticeable limp and with a 3-pointer from Nicole Cox, a two-pointer from Lacour, and two free throws from Udicova, the Lady Warriors took a 32-31 lead with 5:44 left before intermission.
With 2:18 to go before the half ended, Lacour had to leave the floor due to a bloody leg after making the first of two free throws. Lori Cumberland came off the bench to make the second charity shot to pull ECCC back to within 38-36.
A basket by Lacour with 32 seconds remaining knotted the contest at 41-41 and the teams entered the break even in a half that saw five ties and eight lead changes.
ECCC's 41 points would have been impressive even without all the injuries as CAC was allowing just over 49 points per game.
CAC opened the second half with a 7-0 run and never trailed again.
ECCC snapped a 3:18 scoring drought with two free throws from Alberta Norman with 16:42 to play.
Udicova converted two freebies to close the gap to 48-45 before the bottom fell out.
The Vaqueras went on a 19-0 run in just over six minutes to break the game open as they pulled out to a 67-48 lead.
Cox was out with a bleeding elbow for much of that run, but later returned to the lineup.
After a basket by Lacour made ECCC's deficit 80-57, CAC coach Lin Laursen's run-it-up philosophy resulted in a 17-0 run primarily against the Lady Warrior bench.
ECCC, which finished 22-7, got 13 points from Cox, 12 points apiece from Lacour and Udicova, nine from Porter, and eight from Norman. Udicova had nine rebounds, while Cox had five. Udicova also had seven assists, while La'Shonda Ford had three steals.
CAC, 30-3, got 27 points from Strambler, 22 from Ida Dotson, 11 from Cathy Tommaney, and 10 each from Maria Eriksson and Tiffany Diggins. Felecia Pitts had 12 boards as the Vaqueras outrebounded ECCC 48-29.
The Lady Warriors turned the ball over 20 times to CAC's 12. ECCC was 19-of-25 at the free-throw line while CAC was 6-of-11.
Marty Stamper is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at mstamper@themeridianstar.com.

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