Cowgirls fall to Detroit in WBI championship game

By By Alex Hickey / American Press

DETROIT — It was like watching the basketball equivalent of a pool shark.

After playing the entire first half as a

one-woman act, top-seeded Detroit hit No. 8 McNeese State with an

unexpected outside

barrage in the second half to pull away for a 73-62 win in the

Women’s Basketball Invitational championship game at Calihan

Hall on Saturday afternoon.

The loss ended the Cowgirls’ version of a Cinderella run after three consecutive road wins to reach the final.

“We gave a lot of effort and represented McNeese very well,” said Cowgirls coach Brooks Donald Williams. “I’m very proud of

this team making it to a championship game of postseason play.”

The Titans (21-13) went 7 of 12 (58.3 percent) from 3-point range in the second half after hitting 2 of 15 from long-range

before halftime.

“They did a great job of coming back and playing with a lot of energy and intensity in the second half,” Donald Williams said.

“It really wore on us … they hit some big momentum shots even when we hit some on the other end.”

Detroit’s offense was built entirely around post player Shareta Brown in the first half. Though she was nearly unstoppable

in scoring 18 of the Titans’ 28 points on 8 of 9 shooting from the field, it was McNeese that held a two-point lead at the

break.

That quickly changed as Detroit drained three straight 3-pointers to open the second half with a 16-2 run.

“Our game plan was to stop (Brown) and hope their role players wouldn’t hit shots,” said senior guard Ashlyn Baggett. “They

hit shots. They deserved to win.”

Detroit’s shots did as much damage to the Cowgirls (21-15) psychologically as they did on the scoreboard — most of the Titans’

scoring came in the final 10 seconds of the shot clock.

“We couldn’t get a stop. I felt we played pretty good defensively and they were still able to get a shot off at the end of

the shot clock,” Donald Williams said. “It was like a dagger to the heart.”

“That’s a lot of defense to be playing,” Ashlyn said. “For the most part we did pretty well on defense, and then they’d make

the shots. It was frustrating.”

The door was left open ever so slightly in the last 2 minutes.

Nursing a 67-59 lead, Detroit went to

the free-throw line on three consecutive possessions only to miss the

front end of a

1-and-1. But the weary Cowgirls weren’t able to kick that door

down, missing four consecutive shots on the other end before

Brown hit two free throws to put the Titans up 10 with 44 seconds

left.

“We had good opportunities,” said Caitlyn Baggett. “They just defended well and overplayed in the last two minutes. We couldn’t

hit any shots.”

Ashlyn Baggett finished with a team-high 22 points in her final career game, while Caitlyn added 16 points, eight assists

and five rebounds. Both shot 50 percent from the field.

McNeese shot an identical 37.9 percent (11 of 29) in both halves.

Detroit went 14 of 25 (58.3 percent) from the field in the second half after shooting 36.4 percent (12 of 33) in the first

half.