Women's Basketball Loses Free Throw Marathon In Home Opener

Women's Basketball Loses Free Throw Marathon In Home Opener

GEORGETOWN, Texas – A basketball season is a marathon, not a sprint. In the Southwestern University Pirates women's basketball home opener against the Howard Payne University Yellow Jackets, the game was more of a slog from one free-throw attempt to the next.

The Pirates and Yellow Jackets combined for an NCAA DIII season-high combined 84 free-throw attempts. It took roughly two-and-a-half hours to reach the finale but Southwestern University still ultimately fell a few seconds short, unable to get a shot off at the buzzer in a 73-71 loss.

Zhazze Brown and Cecily Woolfolk were a formidable inside-out combination for the Pirates, combining for 49 points on 15-for-29 shooting and 15 rebounds.

Woolfolk went to work early, scoring nine points on four shots in the first quarter. Her scoring, however, was as much a byproduct of the offense as it was its source.

Southwestern University worked through Howard Payne's early full-court presses and traps, moving the ball from one side of the floor to the next while Woolfolk navigated the currents of the ball movement,  diving in at opportune moments for dump off passes and easy layups.

The Pirates assisted on four of their seven first quarter made field goal attempts to take a 19-13 lead.

Brown got going in the second quarter, scoring eight points on four shots with a 3-pointer and strong drives, finishing over the top of the defense. The Yellow Jackets countered by getting to the free-throw line 12 times (hitting six) and a balanced attack with six different Howard Payne players scoring. 

The third quarter turned into a mess with quick whistles leading to frustration from both teams and the fans. Woolfolk worked her way inside with the ball, scoring seven points while shooting 3-for-6 from the free-throw line. She also helped to get the Yellow Jackets into the penalty early, helping Chloe Drum get to the free-throw line on contact on the perimeter, shooting 4-for-4 in the quarter. 

Southwestern University committed nine fouls in the quarter, sending Howard Payne to the line 14 times, of which they converted 10. The Pirates press got them in trouble, with the slightest contact in the open court turning into a parade at the free-throw line. 

Things fell apart early the fourth quarter for Southwestern University. Though the Yellow Jackets' press created some turnovers, the defensive pressure never seemed to phase the Pirates until Howard Payne hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the first minute of the fourth quarter to take a 56-53 lead. 

Howard Payne's Payge Grable followed that up with a steal, leading to a Janek layup. Then Caprica Brooks got a steal in the open court, leading to a flagrant foul from Erin Toro at the 8:25 mark in the fourth quarter with the Yellow Jackets converting both free throws. Another steal and fast break layup gave the Yellow Jackets their highest lead of the game at 62-53 with 6:16 remaining.

Then Brown went to work, hitting three 3-pointers down the stretch and scoring 11 of her game-high 26 points in the fourth quarter to bring the Pirates to within two at 73-71 with 18 seconds remaining. 

Southwestern University was able to force a turnover, but Brown's 3-pointer came off the rim and the Pirates were unable to get another shot off after grabbing the offensive rebound. 

With the loss, the Pirates drop to 0-2 on the season while Howard Payne improves to 1-2. Southwestern University will return to action on Wednesday, Nov. 21 with a home game against Texas-Dallas at 4:00 p.m.