The WVU Tech women’s basketball team’s dream of being a Cinderella story in the 2013 NAIA Division I Women’s National Tournament came to a close Wednesday, 82-48, against No. 1-ranked Freed-Hardeman University.

The Lady Lions (32-1) jumped out to a 16-4 lead in the early minutes of the contest. The Golden Bears then went on an 8-0 run to bring the game to within four points, 16-12.

Early foul trouble and turnovers widened the Tech deficit to 10 points, but Tech senior guard Courtney Sturdivant’s nine first-half points kept the Golden Bears within reach. The Lions, who led the entire game, had back-to-back turnovers that allowed Sturdivant and fellow senior Amy Gardner to hit consecutive 3-pointers to bring the game to its closest gap, 20-17, in favor of Freed-Hardeman.

“We understood that they were a high-ranked and solid team and very difficult to stop before we started this game, but we came in knowing we would play hard, and at the beginning of the game we definitely showed [them] that we could play for a while,” said Tech head coach Jenna Everhart.

A 25-6 run heading into the intermission allowed Freed-Hardeman to take a 45-23 lead. The Lions later stretched the gap to 57-29 with a 12-0 scoring run in the first six minutes of the second half, effectively putting the contest out of reach.

“The shots didn’t fall for us like we are used to,” said Everhart. “It’s disappointing, but that’s the way it is. It happens.

“They’ve held most of their opponents to 42 points a game this year, and we did better than that, but unfortunately for us they were really hot tonight. I expect them [Freed-Hardeman] to go far and potentially win the whole thing.”

The Lions won two more contests — over Campbellsville, Ky. and Vanguard, Calif. — before bowing to Westmont, Calif. in the semifinals, 59-49.

Sturdivant paced all scorers with 18 points, in addition to recording four steals. Gardner added 11 points and three rebounds. Other scorers were: Nia Nolan, 8; Amber Tully, 3; Mashya White, 4; Cheyanna Lusk, 2; and Tracee Mitchel, 2.

Natalie Shumpert led the Lions with 16 points, three rebounds and two assists.

While the team bids farewell to seniors Gardner, Sturdivant and Tully, the Golden Bears look to rebuild and improve for the 2013-14 season.

“They [the seniors] mean everything to this team. They’ve come a long way from winning five games two years ago, seven last year, and now 17 heading into a national tournament,” commented Everhart.  “I can’t be more proud of them and what they have accomplished individually and collectively as a group.

“I’m going to be sad to see them move on, but I’m going to be proud of them, and I know they all have bright futures ahead of them. We are working on the next class coming in, and hopefully it will be the stepping stone to a dynasty. The key is to continue to get better next year and make another trip out here to show everyone what we can do.”

The Golden Bears ended the season with a 17-14 record.

For up-to-date information on other WVU Tech athletics, visit http://www.GoldenBearAthletics.com.

(Editor’s note: Hendrix is the WVU Tech sports information director.)

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