(American Press Archives)
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 8:00 PM
This is not the direction you’re supposed to go for spring break, but the McNeese Cowgirls aren’t complaining.
McNeese (20-14) will take on South Dakota (19-15) at 7 p.m. today in the semifinals of the Women’s Basketball Invitational, with the winner facing either Pennsylvania or Detroit in the final.
The Cowgirls have made the road their home in this tournament, winning at Mercer and Elon to advance to the Final Four.
“It’s been great to still be in the mix and playing in late March,” said Cowgirls coach Brooks Donald Williams. “It’s incredible. We had a letdown in Katy, and for them to come back and fight and represent the Southland Conference and McNeese State University on the road against teams we’re not familiar with, that are technically ranked higher than us, it shows a lot of fight and toughness.”
McNeese is the lone SLC team standing in postseason play.
The question of enthusiasm is one that comes up frequently regarding teams that are playing in postseason tournaments that are not the “Big Dance,” but that has not been an issue for McNeese.
“This is the time of year where it is all about toughness,” Donald Williams said. “The toughest kids are going to win on any given night because everyone’s good who is still playing.”
Seniors Ashlyn and Caitlyn Baggett have made it clear they have no interest in their careers coming to an end just yet. Caitlyn scored a career-high 38 points against Mercer, then added 23 more at Elon.
“It starts with the loss in Katy with how maturely they handled the letdown,” Donald Williams said. “They’re just super kids. I didn’t know what their response would be in the WBI, but they are competitors and winners. They don’t care if it’s spring break. They don’t care where we’re playing. They just want to win. This tournament reaffirms their competitiveness.”
The degree of difficulty will be upped at South Dakota. The Coyotes are coming off a 71-48 blasting of Lamar in Beaumont, Texas, on Sunday.
“We were certainly rooting for Lamar for our fans. We wanted to be able to play in front of our crowd,” Donald Williams said. “But you have to control what you are able to, and the only thing we are able to control is how we play. We’ll try to do the very best we can as we did at Mercer and Elon.”
The Coyotes will pose a challenge with their height. South Dakota has three players averaging more than 10 points per game — two of whom are guards — all standing 5-foot-10 or taller.
“They are a very nice team that runs a lot of really nice things in the paint,” Donald Williams said. “They’ve got two really good wing scorers we have to try to contain as best we can.”