Women’s basketball concludes historical season with a narrow loss against Florida State

Kaelyn Long, Senior Writer

The women’s basketball team departed Charlotte with their heads held high after falling just short against No. 5 Florida State, 70-67, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Halton Arena. The Bison entered this game drawing the highest seed for any Patriot League team in history thanks to a historic season. The No. 12 Bison had two solid chances from behind the arc to tie the game in the final seconds, but just missed capturing the upset. The Bison finished 28-6 on the season, making its second NCAA Tournament berth in the last three years and fourth in program history.

 

Kate Walker ’19 led the team with a game-high 18 points, along with four rebounds and four charges. Kaitlyn Slagus ’19 finished with 13 points while Ellie Mack ’20 finished with 12 points.

 

“Our coaching staff gave us a great game plan going into the game and everyone was locked in before tip-off,” Walker said. “We were confident that we could play with FSU because of our experience and style of play. There were some nerves, but more than anything we were excited to compete and be a part of the madness!”

 

Going into halftime, the Bison trailed by two by a score of 32-30. The Bison and Seminoles were in for a long battle ahead, and they would enter the fourth quarter neck and neck at 54-50 with an FSU advantage.

 

Defensively, the Bison held the Seminoles to 41.3 percent shooting but fell short in the rebounding battle 44-23. The Seminoles executed on some second-chance points which proved to be pivotal in their win. Slagus pulled through with a 3-pointer on the Bison’s first possession of the final quarter, igniting an 8-0 run and giving the Bison a 58-54 lead. During this run, Abby Kapp ’21 hit a 3-pointer off an assist from Kyi English ’19.

 

After the Seminoles tied the game at 58-58, the Orange and Blue regained its lead after Walker found Mack for a layup. With only 3:27 left on the clock, the Seminoles hit a big 3-pointer to go up 66-61. Autumn Ceppi ’21 had a big play off the bench making it a three point game with 3:08 left in the game. Kapp responded with a steal, but the Bison could not get a shot up before the clock expired.

 

A few possessions later, Walker made two free throws to put the Bison behind by three points, 68-65 with about a minute left to play. On a defensive effort by the Bison, the Seminoles missed two shots but regained the rebound both times. The Seminoles made 1-for-2 from the foul line before Kapp finished a layup on the left side to make it a nailbiter with 17 seconds left.

 

With the score at 69-67, the Seminoles went 1-for-2 from the line again, leaving it a one-possession game with the Orange and Blue in control of the ball. As the shot clock counted down from 14.8 seconds, with a score of 70-67, Slagus came up short on a 3-pointer. Mack immediately grabbed the rebound and dished it out to English in the left corner, but her 3-pointer went off the rim as time ran out.

 

The Bison’s final game of the 2019 season was a physical, mental, and emotional rollercoaster. The Bison were able to take the largest lead of the game, 15-6, and had their first five shots coming from five different players. The team went 8-for-23 from behind the arc and finished with a 43.1 shooting percentage. Other notable stats included collecting 14 assists and going 15-for-17 from the foul line.

 

“I believe we played very hard and left everything on the court,” English said. “We didn’t have a perfect game and we still had some great looks at the end to tie it. I was very proud of our energy and effort and that game will be one of many I will remember for the rest of my life. Having my last game as a senior has me filled with a ton of emotions. It seems a little easy to deal with right now because I have my four amazing senior teammates who are going through the same exact thing and I also have the rest of my team who are my best friends. So having that support has been truly a gift.”

 

The Senior class ended their career with much to be proud of. Slagus, Walker, English, Rachel Dumiak ’19, and Maegan Mikkelsen ’19 will enter the record books with the most career wins by any Patriot League class in its 29-year history with 102 total wins, an excellent career by all.

 

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