By Bob Flynn
Register Sports Writer
The Lady Colonels saw their season come to an end Friday with a 97-45 loss to defending champion UT-Martin in the semifinals of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament.
The combination of a tired EKU team — playing its third game in three days — and a very good Martin team that came out red hot proved to be a mismatch in the game.
It was obvious from the beginning that the Lady Colonels were running on empty as they struggled to get the ball up the floor against the Martin press and once they did, their offense was stagnant and lifeless.
The Skyhawks scored the game’s first 22 points — hitting 4-of-7 three pointers — and forced EKU into seven turnovers in the first six minutes.
The Lady Colonels finally got on the board on a Mariah Massengill three-pointer, but they never got any closer than 17 points the rest of the way as the Skyhawks ran away with it.
“I’m pleased with how far this team has come. To come in here and put together a run like we did ... I felt like we competed, but we ran out of gas,” EKU coach Chrissy Roberts said. “I’m pleased with our effort, the toughness we showed. And this one game has no bearing on how our season has gone. I’m just proud of the growth we’ve show throughout the season.”
That growth has been on display throughout the tournament.
In EKU’s two wins in the tournament, the Lady Colonels’ young players were forced into service due to foul trouble and they came through in the clutch.
Without the play of freshmen Michaela Hunter, Cierra Drake, Amadi Brooks, Nicole Bowers and Mariah Massengill and sophomore Jasmine Henshaw off the bench, the Lady Colonels never would have advanced to Friday’s semifinal game.
And Friday, on a day that seniors Marie Carpenter and Pilar Walker and the other EKU starters struggled mightily, the youngsters performed well in extremely difficult circumstances.
Massengill finished with four three-pointers and 12 points to lead EKU in scoring. Henshaw had a career-high 10 points and Brooks added seven points.
Massengill’s play was one bright spot for EKU on an otherwise miserable day.
She said she never thought she would be playing so much in the tournament but she was ready when her name was called.
“I tried to go in and do what I could to help the team,” Massengill said. “I had to step up. ‘P’ was injured so I felt like I needed to contribute in any way I could. I couldn’t give up. I didn’t have the heart to give up.
Roberts said a lot of the growth the young players have had over the course of the season is due to the leadership of Walker and Carpenter.
“A lot of people are going to remember this season and they are going to remember Pilar Walker and Marie Carpenter,” Roberts said. “Their leadership has been huge and its something we haven’t had in a while. I relied a lot on my seniors and put a lot on them and they’ve handled it really well. I’ve been a proud Mom.”
Hunter finished with five points, Miranda Maples had three points and Shelly Harper had two points, while Carpenter and Walker both finished with three points in their final game for the Lady Colonels.