By Don Gilmore, TMU Sports Information
From the day the NAIA Women’s National Tournament bracket came out until game time on Wednesday, everybody had counted out The Master’s University.
The Lady Mustangs had gained an at-large berth in the tournament following a fifth-place, regular-season finish in the GSAC and a semifinal exit in the conference tournament.
And, they were facing the nation’s No. 2 team, Freed Hardeman of Tennessee in a first-round matchup.
However, TMU head coach Dan Waldeck expected more.
He almost got it.
After standing toe-to-toe with the perennial powerhouse Lions, the Mustangs didn’t have enough left in the fourth quarter and fell 71-51.
“I thought we battled hard for the entirety of the game,” Waldeck said. “We couldn’t make shots consistently enough to finish the game.”
The loss ended the Mustangs’ season at 19-11.
Trailing 49-45 going to the fourth quarter, the Mustangs were in the hunt for a spectacular upset.
However, the Lions squashed those hopes methodically and decisively. They tore off 15 of the quarter’s first 16 points, held the Mustangs to just six points in the stanza, and pulled away for the win.
This after TMU had sliced six points off the Lions’ 10-point halftime lead (35-25) with a 20-point third quarter.
A Hannah Forrar bucket and a Sabrina Thompson three-pointer pulled the Mustangs within 37-32. The Mustangs got as close as three points on two occasions, the last time at 45-42 when Thompson hit one in the lane with 3:37 left in the quarter.
Forrar and Thompson combined for 13 points in the period.
Much earlier, it appeared the Mustangs were going to get blown out.
All-American Kim Mallory scored the Lions’ first 11 points as Freed Hardeman surged to an 11-5 lead. The Lions led 15-10 at the end of the opening quarter.
Mallory was at it again in the second stanza and she was joined by teammate Sandra Slyman. Slyman tallied 12 points in the quarter to extend her club’s lead to 10 points at halftime.
The Mallory-Slyman tandem combined for 52 points.
Thompson was the lone Mustang in double figures, scoring a season-high 18 points on 7-12 shooting, including 3-3 from behind the arc.
Although disappointed by the outcome, Waldeck was enthusiastic for the future.
“The experience gained by this group will pay huge dividends in the future,” he quipped.
Here’s the box score.