SAN ANGELO, TEXAS – UT Tyler women’s basketball can still hear the music, and they will continue dancing as they advance to the Round of 32 of the NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament with a 73-63 victory over Colorado School of Mines.
UT Tyler got huge contributions from a trio of players in double figures, and held Colorado School of Mines to their second lowest shooting percentage of the season and their fourth lowest point total.
The two teams battled to a dead even split over the first 10 minutes as they each scored 17 points. Lovisa Hevinder and Tina Machalova combined for 12 points in the opening frame as the Orediggers were led by Ashley Steffeck who scored 10 points.
In that opening frame, the Patriots shot 33% from the floor and 66.7% from deep, and held the Orediggers to just 31.3% from the floor and only 25% from beyond the arc.
In the second quarter, the Patriots were extremely balanced on offense, as four different Patriots scored, and none scored more than six points. The key to the quarter was a 12-5 UT Tyler run over the first six minutes of the period that featured four different scorers and a pair of three pointers. That run continued even further, as the Patriots dropped in a layup from Frances King and another jumper from Meagan Mendazona to extend the lead to 10.
In the second quarter, the Patriots held the Orediggers to just 18.8% from the floor and 12.5% from deep while shooting 42.9% from the floor and 50% from deep. Over the half, the Orediggers shot just 25% from the floor as the Patriots set the tone on the defensive end.
The third quarter saw both teams battle tightly, with neither side giving an edge. The Orediggers outscored the Patriots 18-17 as Steffeck again got herself going, but Mendazona answered with eight of her own.
The pivotal moment of the second half came at the third quarter buzzer. Colorado School of Mines buried a triple to cut the lead down to just three, but King grabbed the inbound pass and launched up a 28-footer that found all net as the clock hit zero to move the lead back out to six.
That buzzer-beater seemed to kick the Patriots’ offense into another gear, as they ran out on a 10-0 run over the first 2:52 of the final period. In that run, the Patriots knocked down a pair of triples from Hevinder and Lauren Cortinas, and Mendazona chipped in a two of her own.
The Orediggers would finally break the seal at the 5:28 mark with a layup and then followed it up with another layup, but Hevinder was there again with another three pointer to answer the run.
The lead was cut down to 10 points with 2:11 remaining, and another made three from Colorado School of Mines dropped the lead down to seven points with under two minutes to play.
Despite the big run, the Patriots were efficient from the line, going 6-8 from the charity stripe over the final 1:31 to secure the win.
Meagan Mendazona led the way for UT Tyler with 23 points and went 7-8 from the free throw line while grabbing eight rebounds.
Lovisa Hevinder added in 19 points and a trio of three pointers while also snagging eight rebounds.
Lauren Cortinas dropped in 10 points on 3-5 shooting and also grabbed six rebounds.
Ella Bradley had a team high nine rebounds as the Patriots held a 49-45 advantage in that category.
The Patriots outscored the Orediggers in bench points (25-17), and points in the paint (30-24).
Next up for UT Tyler will be a matchup between the winner of no. 1 seeded Angelo State and no. 8 seeded West Texas A&M. That contest will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday inside Stephens Arena – Junell Center.