SALINA, Kan. - Plagued again by too many turnovers and poor shooting from the field, Northeastern A&M's Lady Norse suffered a 62-49 loss Wednesday afternoon to No. 14 seed Southwestern Illinois College in an elimination game of the National Junior College Athletic Association Women's Division I National Tournament in the Bicentennial Center.
"Not only did we make too many mistakes for the second game in a row, but we just didn't make shots," Lady Norse head coach Jim Rowland said. "It wasn't that we didn't execute our offense, because we did. We just couldn't get the ball to go into the basket.
"Anytime you hold the opposition to around 60 points, you're giving yourself a chance to win," Rowland said. "But, once again, we weren't hitting shots from the outside and you've got to have a balance in scoring from both the perimeter and in the paint."
The Lady Norse, who were the tournament's No. 11 seed, return to Miami with a 23-11 overall record while the Southwestern Illinois Blue Storm from Belleville advance with a 28-7 season mark.
Both teams struggled offensively early, with eight lead changes in the first 10 minutes before consecutive layups from Brooklyn McNamara and Janelle Cannon created a 18-14 lead for the Blue Storm with 7:10 until halftime.
Back-to-back field goals by Kayla Anderson and Wilka Montout rallied the Lady Norse to an 18-18 tie at the 6:25 juncture of the first half.
That would be the last time the Lady Norse were close to the Blue Storm.
Four straight points by Kelsey Harrison, along with a 3-point field goal by Stormy Williams and a layup by Kara Wine propelled the Blue Storm to a 27-18 cushion with 3:12 until intermission.
Wine sank a short jump shot as Southwestern Illinois carried a 29-21 lead to the locker room at halftime.
"We had 14 turnovers in the first half and finished with 24 for the game," Rowland said. "If you add that to the 19 that we had in the 52-42 loss to New Mexico on Tuesday, then we averaged more than 20 turnovers a game and that's way too many."
Two 3-point field goals by Williams and a put-back from LaTeasha Hill enabled the Blue Storm to build a 36-23 margin in the first four minutes of the second half.
A 3-pointer from Wine and a layup by Cannon gave the Blue Storm their largest lead of the game of 41-26 with 13:45 showing on the clock.
Eight points by Montout in the paint along with 3-pointers by both Kendrea Harbert and Eliana Fernandez rallied the Lady Norse to a 48-40 deficit with 7:15 remaining in the game.
"Every time we cut the margin to 10 points or under, they would respond and push the lead back up," Rowland said. "You've got to give a lot of credit to Southwestern Illinois because they played hard the entire game."
After the Blue Storm received a 3-pointer from Wine and a layup by Cannon along with a free throw by Hill for a 54-42 lead, the Lady Norse responded with another 3-pointer by Hernandez and a basket by Katy Cooper to produce a 54-47 deficit with 3:27 left on the scoreboard.
Forced to foul to try and regain control of the ball in the last three minutes, the Lady Norse watched as the Blue Storm hit six straight free throws and four points Hill and two along with a layup by Cannon for a 62-47 cushion with 36 seconds left.
Montout finished as the game's leading scorer with 20 total points along with Hernandez 14, Cooper 4, Anderson 4, BriAnna Garza 3, Harbert 3 and Megan Schieber 1 point.
NEO connected on 21 of 56, which included 5 of 18 from 3-point range, for 38 per cent from the field and a mere 2 of 11 for 18 per cent from the free throw line.
Cannon tallied 17 points to lead the Blue Storm while Wine scored 11, Williams 10, Hill 9, Kaitlynn Smith 5, Kelsey Harrison 4, Morgan White 3 and McNamara 3.
Southwestern Illinois sank 19 of 56, including 7 of 16 from the 3-point arch, for 34 per cent from the field and 17 of 27 for 63 per cent from the free throw line.
Cooper grabbed 13 rebounds to give the Lady Norse a 44-41 edge on the boards. Cannon collected 11 rebounds to lead the Blue Storm.
Not only did Southwestern Illinois outscore the Lady Norse by a 22 to 11 margin off turnovers, but their deep bench held a 20 to 7 margin over NEO.
Northeastern A&M (23-11) - Wilka Montout 10 0-5 20, Eliana Fernandez 5 1-2 14, Katy Cooper 2 0-0 4, Kayla Anderson 2 0-0 4, Kendrea Harbert 1 0-2 3, BriAnna Garza 1 0-0 3, Megan Schieber 0 1-2 1, Ilze Teilane 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 2-11 49.
Southern Illinois (28-7) - Janelle Cannon 5 7-12 17, Kara Wine 4 1-2 11, Stormy Williams 4 0-0 10, LaTeasha Hill 2 5-8 9, Kaitlynne Smith 1 2-3 5, Kelsey Harrison 1 2-2 4, Brooklyn McNamara 1 0-0 3, Morgan White 1 0-0 3. Totals 19 17-27 62.
Halftime - SWIC 29, NEO 21. 3-point goals - NEO 5-18 (Fernandez 3-8, Harbert 1-1, Garza 1-4, Anderson 0-1, Schieber 0-2, Montout 0-2), SWIC 7-16 (Wine 2-2, Williams 2-2, McNamara 1-2, Smith 1-2, White 1-5, Hill 0-1). Rebounds - NEO 44 (Cooper 13, Montout 9, Fernandez 5, Schieber 5, Anderson 5, Harbert 1, Garza 1, Teilane 1), SWIC 41 (Cannon 11, Williams 8, Hill 8, White 4, Wine 3, Smith 2, McNamara 1). Assists - NEO 12 (Fernandez 4, Cooper 3, Schieber 3, Montout 1, Garza 1), SWIC 11 (Cannon 7, White 3, Wine 1). Steals - NEO 6 (Cooper 3, Fernandez 1, Schieber 1, Montout 1), SWIC 13 (McNamara 4, Wine 4, Hill 2, Cannon 2, Smith 1). Blocked shots - NEO 5 (Cooper 4, Montout 1), SWIC 4 (Hill 2, Cannon 2). Turnovers - NEO 24, SWIC 12. Total fouls - NEO 16, SWIC 13. Fould out - none. Technical fouls – none.