Late defensive stop helps No. 11 Lady Dawgs avoid upset bid

SWOSU Sports
Doug Self, Sports Information Director

ARKADELPHIA, Ark. – Tyra Aska knocked down a clutch three with just 48 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, giving the No. 11/9 Lady Bulldogs their first and most important lead of the entire second half. SWOSU went on to stave off Ouachita’s upset bid with a huge defensive stop on the following possession and eventually escaped with a 76-73 victory over the Tigers.

SWOSU played from behind for much of the second half after Ouachita recovered from an early double-digit deficit that they faced in the first half. The Lady Bulldogs opened up with an 11-point first half lead with 2:43 to go before the break, but Ouachita closed out the quarter strong to get within two points heading into the locker room.

Ouachita started the third quarter hot by scoring 11 of the quarter’s first 13 points. The Tigers had themselves a 10-point lead at 55-45 near the midway point of the third quarter before the Lady Dawgs dug in and clawed their way back. Bethany Franks scored the final four points of the quarter and had SWOSU within five points headed to the final 10 minute session.

The final quarter saw five ties before the Lady Bulldogs finally managed to grab their only lead of the second half, but it was the one that mattered. Despite chasing Ouachita on the scoreboard for the majority of the fourth quarter, SWOSU kept the ball game within one possession the entire time – trailing by a maximum of three points on two separate occasions.

With 1:12 left on the clock, Ouachita again took a two-point lead following a made layup. Back on the other end of the floor, Taylor Hedrick missed a shot but collected her own rebound before the ball ended up in Tyra Aska’s hands at the three point line and with no defender anywhere in sight. The sophomore collected herself and fired her shot which rattled in, giving SWOSU the 74-73 lead with 48 seconds to go.

Back on defense, Bethany Franks came away with a great effort steal by diving to the court after stripping Ouachita’s Chasidee Owens of the ball. The steal allowed SWOSU to run down almost the entire game clock before finally firing a shot with five seconds left that couldn’t find net. Even though the shot was no good, the Lady Bulldogs still held a one-point lead with five seconds to play.

Both teams traded timeouts trying to setup their respective offense and defense and Ouachita had a chance to go for the win after inbounding the ball at half court. With five seconds ticking down on the clock, the Tigers inbounded and began their set play. The Tigers got their pass away to a cutting Kori Bullard to the basket, but the two sport Ouachita athlete started running before catching the ball and it bounced off of her hands and shin and ricocheted out of bounds – giving SWOSU the ball back with one second to play.

Ouachita committed an intentional foul on the ensuing inbounds, allowing Hailey Tucker to extend the Lady Dawg margin to three points and then let SWOSU retain possession. The Lady Bulldogs inbounded the ball and the buzzer sounded soon after, allowing SWOSU to escape Bill Vining Arena with a hard fought victory.

SWOSU shot 44.3% (27-of-61) as a team on the afternoon, compared to Ouachita who finished just under 50% (28-of-57) collectively. The three ball kept the Tigers in the game on Saturday, as they connected on 10-of-21 (47.6%) day including seven of those which came in the first half.

Franks had another solid game, scoring a season high 21 points and coming away with 10 rebounds – her sixth double-double of the season. Tucker had struggles shooting the ball on Saturday, but finished with 15 points and a pair of blocks on defense. Hayden Priddy tallied 13 points, followed by Hedrick at 11 and Aska with nine.

The win moves the Lady Bulldogs to 18-1 on the year and 13-0 in league play. SWOSU completes the month of January a perfect 9-0 and they have now won 10 straight games dating back to mid-December.

SWOSU returns home next week and will welcome Harding on Thursday (Feb. 1) and Arkansas Tech on Saturday (Feb. 3) in more GAC action.