MORRISTOWN, Tenn. — A fourth-quarter drought doomed No. 16 Walters State in its season opener against 21st-ranked Georgia Highlands. The Lady Senators were held to just four points in the final period in a 62-55 loss at 'Z' Buda Gymnasium Friday night in the Senators Tip-Off Classic.
"As young as we are, we played hard," WSCC coach Dave Kragel said. "But we did not finish, which you have to in a ballgame like this. I think a lot of that has to do with our youth, but also how hard you have to work in practice every day. I'm hoping, with the schedule we'll be playing, we'll understand how to do this at some point in time."
The Lady Senators (0-1) took the early lead in the opening period thanks to their game in the paint, led by Haley Comer and Vertonia Bady. After the Chargers (1-0) jumped ahead 10-6 thanks to a Ja'Lyn Reese three-pointer, WSCC held them without a point for over three minutes as they uncorked an8-0 run. Reese knocked down a three to end the streak, but Walters State ended the first period up 14-13.
The Lady Senators pushed their lead to five after two Alexis Trice free throws and led by four when Reese hit three to make the score 20-19. Reese was on fire behind the arc all game, finishing 6-of-10 from three point distance.
With a little over five minutes to go in the first half, Nijeria Jordan knocked down a jumper to give Georgia Highlands a 21-20 lead. A three from Reese two minutes later would stretch it to six, 28-22. A three and a jumper from Trice would put the Lady Senators within two before the half, 34-32.
The game seesawed all through the third period, with multiple ties and lead changes. A layup from Comer put Walters State ahead 51-50 heading into the fourth, but that's when the wheels came off for the Lady Senators.
The Chargers opened the final frame on an 8-0 run to take a 58-51 lead.
"They made a couple of baskets on us and starting coming down and just shooting threes," Kragel said. "We didn't run our offense. When you don't do that, it makes things difficult. We would like to bring the ball inside out. We did some good things, but we missed a lot of little chippies. And they got some runouts on us and that shouldn't happen."
A jumper from Jalayah Manning would pull the Lady Senators within five with 2:38 to go, but they never scored another point. Walters State shot 6.3 percent from the field in the fourth quarter, going 1-for-16.
"We were 4-for-22 from the three-point line," Kragel said. "That's not going to get it done. I can't have Lex going 1-for-9. I can't have Blayre going 1-for-7. That can't happen and us be a success. We had 20 offensive rebounds, but we didn't have 20 offensive stick-backs. We have to do a lot better job than that."
The Lady Senators will get a chance to put the rough start behind them Saturday when they face No. 7 ranked Shelton State at 'Z' Buda Gymnasium. Tip-off is set for 5 p.m.