The UTPB women’s basketball team, playing its first game in more than two weeks, faced a difficult test against top-ranked Lubbock Christian.
The Falcons hung in early before fading in a 74-43 defeat to the Lady Chaps in Lone Star Conference play Friday at the Falcon Dome. The matchup had been pushed back a day because of inclement weather affecting travel across the state and it was the first time that the Falcons had taken the floor since their game Feb. 3 at UT Tyler.
Alexis Popham led the Falcons offensively, finishing with a team-high 15 points while Alexus Quaadman had eight points and six rebounds. Morgan Helgesen finished with six points and eight rebounds.
It wasn’t enough to match the spark that Lubbock Christian got from the outside.
Ashton Duncan led the Lady Chaps with a game-high 25 points, including 6 of 8 from 3-point range. Emma Middleton was the leader in the paint with 13 points and six rebounds while Allie Schulte finished with 11 points, five assists and four steals for Lubbock Christian (12-0 overall, 10-0 in conference).
“I saw from LCU why they’re the number one team in the country,” UTPB head coach Rae Boothe said. “I think we came out with a lot of energy and were excited to play. Of course, the goal is to remain mentally tough and limit the runs.
“I don’t think they went on incredibly long runs. I just don’t know if we had the ability to keep up with all the weapons that they have.”
The Falcons found themselves trailing 13-5 through the first five minutes, starting just 1 of 6 from the floor to start the game. The only field goal of the early stretch came on a three-point play by Lauren Stallworth with 6:02 left in the first quarter.
Duncan gave the Lady Chaps a boost with three 3-pointers in that same stretch.
UTPB (5-10, 4-10) trailed was able to cut into the deficit with a Popham jumper late in the quarter and trailed 16-11 after the first 10 minutes.
The Falcons stayed within striking distance in the second quarter with a pair of Popham 3-pointers to make it 26-19 with just over three minutes to go before halftime.
That was close as UTPB got the rest of the half as Lubbock Christian closed on an 11-4 run to take a 37-23 lead into the locker room.
The Lady Chaps picked up right where they left off coming out to start the second half thanks to a quick layup from Middleton to open things up. Lubbock Christian also took advantage of 23 turnovers from UTPB and turned that into 21 points compared to six for the Falcons.
The Lady Chaps led by 23 points at the end of the third quarter and a 6-0 run to begin the final 10 minutes further solidified the victory. The two teams will face off again Sunday in Lubbock to wrap up the series.
“LCU makes you pay for every single mistake,” Boothe said. “We have a lot to learn from this and we hope that we can cut this margin going into Sunday in Lubbock.”
>> Follow Tony Venegas on Twitter at @OA_TVenegas