KFBB to KC: UGF Women and Carroll Men Seasons End in Elite 8 at - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

KFBB to KC: UGF Women and Carroll Men Seasons End in Elite 8 at NAIA Tourney

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Fatigue, missed shots, and a valiant University of Pikevillle foe ended the Lady Argo’s season with a 75-68 loss in the quarterfinals of the 2016 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship. The team finished the year tied with the 2015 squad for most wins in program history and furthest postseason run.

“Anytime you can win a game at the national tournament its special a special thing. It’s a tough thing,” UGF head coach Bill Himmelberg said. “We’re disappointed that we didn’t get the win tonight but I’m very proud of our team and what we’ve done together.”

After jumping out to a six-point lead halfway through the first quarter, the Lady Argo’s early energy wore off and all the seemed to be left were tired legs. UGF hit just 28 percent from three in the first half and turned the ball over nine times. Despite those numbers a gritting, free throw laden effort senior Erin Legel, along with sophomore Stephanie McDonagh kept UGF in the game.

The two combined for 18 of the team’s 33 first half points, half of those 18 came off of free throws, and McDonagh’s pull-up buzzer beater narrowed the deficit to just two heading into the locker room.

“Definitely fatigue played a factor. This is the hardest day of the tournament,” Himmelberg said. “We play five deep a lot of the year and to have to do that for three days was a pretty tough situation.”

UGF’s cut down on the turnovers and shot slightly better from the field in the second half, but their inability to get the Bears off of the boards and win loose balls gave UPIKE too many possessions.

The Bears finished with 18 total offensive rebounds and 15 more shot attempts than UGF. Those factors, and some uncharacteristic missed free throws from Legel, led to a 12-point Piveville lead with just over three minutes to go in the game.

“We talked about holding them off the offensive boards and they had 18. As well as we defended we can’t let them have twelve more shots than us,” Himmelberg said. “We didn’t rally to the ball very well at times and I thought that was the difference in the game.”

A three from junior Nneka Nnadi looked like it might give the Lady Argos enough energy for a late comeback surge but while the UGF offense stepped up in those final minutes, the team couldn’t get enough stops on the other end.

McDonagh finished with six of UGF’s last eight points but fittingly it was the senior Erin Legel, the school’s all-time leading scorer, who sunk two free throws to score the team’s last points of the year.

Legel finished with 15 points to give her a total of 50 over the course of three NAIA tournament games. For the first time in the tournament, however, she didn’t lead the team in score. That role went to McDonagh, who finished with 22 points. Nnadi finished with 11 points and led the team with seven rebounds and two steals.

The loss ends the Lady Argo’s season with a record of 24-11, which ties for the most wins in program history. The team also tied for the deepest tournament run in program history.

“You’re supposed to peak at the end of the year and I thought we peaked at the time we were supposed to and had a great run,” Himmelberg said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t play our best basketball tonight, but up until this point we were peaking right at the end.”

Himmelberg’s squad will lose Legel and two other senior to graduation, but will return four of five starters while getting a boost from two talented players, junior Darah Huertes-Vining and Kallee Wilson, who redshirted this season. Along with a promising recruiting class, the Lady Argos could be primed for another tournament run in 2016-17.

““We’re looking forward to next year. We have a lot of pieces returning,” Himmelberg said. “If we can be healthy, next year is probably going to be the deepest team we’ve ever had.”

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