“It’s an important win because it takes us into a three way tie with Southern University-New Orleans, Xavier and us, TC head coach Romeo Lagmay said. “All three of us are in first place. Right now, it’s all about finishing strong. At least we’re in contention for it. That why it’s a key win because if we had lost we wouldn’t even be in contention for it. We’re just once again having faith that we’ll pull that out.”
The contest between conference opponents Talladega College and Southern University was tense enough that a coach might have been tempted to pull a player for even a few mistakes, but Lagmay had faith in his players.
“We’ve been working out in practice with our post game,” he said. “I was trying to focus on looking inside since we have a 6-3 presence and we’ve been practicing it so I had to put it in the game. It’s a senior, so I wanted to go to her and it was working. But there’s a point when it wasn’t working. You had a lot of turnovers, but you’ve got to have faith in the senior with experience. Sometimes with faith it doesn’t look like it’s going your way, but that’s why they call it faith. It worked out okay. I was proud she just kept her head.”
Southern University-New Orleans got off to a fast start in the first half, getting off to a 9-2 lead. April Perry had seven of those nine points, including a 3-pointer and a textbook floater.
At that point, the Lady Tornadoes began working their players in the post. Thomesha Smith got two points down low, while Bianca Thomas got two down low on the following offensive possession. Perry continued to have a strong shooting touch, as she used the backboard to connect on a long range two-point shot to give Southern a 16-7 lead.
TC proceeded to go on an 8-2 run to cut the lead down to 18-15. Lynice Schallberger got things going with an off-the-glass shot for two points. Bianca Thomas made the same type of shot after that. Thomas continued her scoring spree with another successful shot around the free throw line, followed by another long range two near the top of the key.
Down 23-18, TC went on another run, this one a 10-2 run. The team was especially effective at the free throw line with Schallberger knocking down two free throws, Ryann Drear hitting two free throws and Thomesha Smith capping the run by hitting two free throws. At the completion of the run, TC had regained the lead, 28-25.
Southern gained the momentum at that point in the game, going on a 9-1 run to regain the lead, 34-29.
Schallberger got a transition basket when she made a sharp cut to the basket to get open down court on an inbound pass. Next, Ashawnte Hawkins made a basket driving to the hoop and then hit two free throws. The three consecutive baskets took the Lady Tornadoes from trailing 34-29 to leading 35-34 at the half.
TC started the second half off right on a 6-2 run. Arielle George got a transition basket off a nice bounce pass through traffic from Schallberger. After Southern made a basket, Hawkins hit a shot while driving through traffic inside the perimeter. Bianca Thomas capped the run off with a mid-range shot from the corner to put TC up 41-36.
Once again, Southern fought to regain the lead, going on an 11-3 run. Perry got two transition baskets to lead the way for her team, capping the run with a steal and two easy points to give Southern a slender 51-49 lead.
Schallberger answered with a transition basket and a putback shot to help TC retake the lead 53-51. George followed that up by knocking down a 3-pointer.
“She’ll do some things that no one else on the team can do that are intangible,” Lamay said of Schallberger. “I think tonight she did that. That’s something where once again, I’ve got to have faith in her. I could’ve taken her out of the game towards the end when she missed a pass and it went the other way, but I told her I’m going to have faith. I’m going to keep you in there. I’m going to draw up another play for you to run and she was ready to go.”
With TC clinging to a 63-61 lead, Ryann Drear hit a big 3-point shot to put the Lady Tornadoes ahead, 66-61. Southern’s Janee Morton followed it up with an inside shot off-the-glass for two points. TC’s Bianca Thomas got a no-look pass down low from Hawkins for an easy basket that gave TC a 68-63 lead.
Southern scored five unanswered point to tie it up at 68-68. With the score tied, Hawkins nailed a free throw. Then, Thomesha Smith hit two free throws to give TC a 71-68 lead. With mere seconds remaining, Perry drove up the court, tripped and tried to call a timeout to avoid a traveling call. There was only one problem: the team had no timeouts remaining. They were granted a timeout, but charged with a technical foul. George made one of two free throws that left it at 72-68 for what was ultimately the final score.