Championship games are designed to feature two of the hottest teams in the league, playing a nail-biting game down to the wire.
This was no exception. In fact, it was arguably one of the best LSC Championship finals in conference history.
MSU’s Dianna Jones tied the game with a clutch 3-pointer with 12 seconds remaining and then after a West Texas A&M turnover, Jones then hit a running jumper in the lane as the buzzer sounded, giving the top-seeded Mustangs a dramatic 85-83 comeback win over the Lady Buffs.
MSU, which claimed its first LSC Championship title since 2001, trailed by as much as 14 in the second half before a furious comeback in the final minutes. Mustangs guard Kirsti Degelia actually had a chance to win the game in regulation but her 3-point attempt came up short.
In overtime, both teams traded baskets and the lead a few times before WT claimed a 3-point lead after Casey Land hit two free throws for the Lady Buffs. But that’s when Jones went to work, pulling up at the top of the key to tie the game with a 3. After the Lady Buffs threw the ball away with 6.9 seconds, it set up Jones’ last-second heroics.
Jones, who also scored 27 points in Wednesday’s quarterfinal win over Eastern New Mexico, was named tournament MVP with a team-high 23 points in Saturday’s win. Degelia scored 19 and earned All-Tournament team honors. Shatoia Gober scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while Skyler Warrick had 12 points off the bench. Andrea Carter scored eight points, corralled 10 boards and had a team-high four steals.
West Texas A&M’s Devin Griffin led all scorers with 32 points and had 11 rebounds. Griffin and Land (20 points) both made the All-Tournament team, as did Tarleton State’s Kiara Wright.
The Lady Buffs also got 13 points and eight rebounds from Chontiquah White.
WT (20-11) saw its eight-game winning streak come to an end, but can only hope the season isn’t over as well. The Lady Buffs entered the tournament ranked ninth in the South Central Region, with the top eight seeds advancing.
MSU was No. 2 overall and is expected to remain there for next week’s regional.
The Lady Buffs shot 60 percent from the floor (18 of 30) in the first half, but cooled off dramatically in the second, hitting only 10 of 24. They turned the ball over 22 times, including 17 in the second half.
Kiara Wright, Tarleton State
Casey Land, West Texas A&M
Devin Griffin, West Texas A&M
Kirsti Degelia, Midwestern State
Dianna Jones, Midwestern State (MVP)
Midwestern State notes:
• Midwestern State is now 10-4 in six all-time trips to the LSC Post-Season Tournament.
• Midwestern State's second league title came 12 years after it’s first as the Mustangs capped the 2000-01 season with a 65-61 win over Southeastern Oklahoma State in the tournament championship game.
• Midwestern State is now 2-1 in three tournament championship game appearances (wins in 2001 and 2013 and a loss in 2002 to Angelo State).
West Texas A&M notes:
• West Texas A&M is now 41-14 all-time in the Lone Star Conference Post-Season Tournament and 11-6 in post-season tournament championship game appearances.
• West Texas A&M's last loss in the post-season championship game was in 2000 when the Lady Buffs lost to Texas A&M-Kingsville, 82-67, in Kingsville. That was the third of three losses in the championship game in a five-year span for the Lady Buffs.
• After going 9-1 in the four years the LSC Post-Season Championship Tournament was played in Bartlesville, Okla., the Lady Buffs are 3-2 in two trips to the tournament in Allen. Still, the Lady Buffs are 12-3 in their last 15 tournament games under head coach Krista Gerlich.
• Gerlich took over as the head coach in 2006 and since then the Lady Buffs are 14-3 in the tournament under her direction with five appearances in the title game and three championships in seven seasons.
• West Texas A&M junior forward Devin Griffin scored 32 points Saturday night in the championship game loss, which is tied for the 12th-best scoring game in LSC women's post-season tournament championship. Former Howard Payne great Peggy Taylor scored 32 points in a 1984 game that was actually the single-game record until one year later.
Lone Star Conference: lonestarconference.org.