WEATHERFORD — The 11-ranked Lady Bulldogs overcame an early 12-point deficit, fending off East Central for a 91-76 victory Thursday night at the Pioneer Cellular Event Center and extending their winning streak to 20 consecutive games.
Southwestern improved to 20-1 overall and 15-0 in Great American Conference action, while the Tigers left town at 14-7 and 9-6.
East Central started the game shooting incredibly, knocking down 7-of-10 three-pointers in the first quarter and building a 26-14 lead less than eight minutes into the game. During the opening ECU salvo, the Tigers got a pair of 3-pointers from Stefany Lourenco along with one shot from long range apiece from Tia Williams, Madison Rehl, Kendall Schulte and Madison Nickens.
Hailey Tucker kept the Lady Dawgs close, scoring 18 points on her own in the opening quarter to keep the damage to seven points, 31-24, at the end of the quarter. Nickens swished her second triple with seven seconds left that gave ECU its seven-point lead.
SWOSU clamped down defensively in the second quarter, allowing ECU to hit only four baskets – nine overall points – and the Lady Bulldogs took a 44-40 lead to the break.
The second half featured mini-runs by each team, with SWOSU never trailing while building a double-digit lead on three different occasions. Every time it appeared the Lady Bulldogs were about to pull away, the Tigers answered with a run, and they trailed by just two, 61-59, with 3:18 to play in the third frame.
SWOSU led by three with less than two minutes to play in the third quarter when Taber Beer knocked down a 3-pointer in front of the SWOSU bench, jump-starting a 7-2 run to end the quarter. The hosts carried a 71-63 lead into the fourth.
ECU got within four points once in the fourth, but Hayden Priddy answered with a 3-pointer, and the lead was never less than six points the rest of the way.
Lourenco led the Tiger offense with 19 points, including four 3-point shots, and Williams followed with 17. Rehl and Schulte finished with 10 points apiece for ECU.
Sam Schwab grabbed a team-high six rebounds off the bench for the visitors. Southwestern won the battle of the boards 35-28.
The Lady Bulldogs were very balanced offensively, with four players scoring in double figures to help SWOSU reach 90 points for the 10th time this season. Hailey Tucker led the way with 27 points, hitting 9-of-21 field goal attempts and 4-of-11 3-pointers while also totaling four rebounds, three steals, two assists and one blocked shot.
Hayden Priddy knocked down 8-of-16 field goal attempts and three 3-pointers to finish with 19 points, five rebounds and three steals.
Taber Beer continued to give SWOSU big contributions off the bench, scoring a career-high 15 points by hitting all five of her field goal attempts, including three 3-pointers, and hitting a pair of free throws.
“We knew coming in that East Central was going to play us tough, and that’s exactly what we got tonight,” SWOSU head coach Kelsi Musick said. “After they got hot in the first quarter, we picked up our pressure and stuck to the game plan after that and had several players step up and give us contributions at the offensive end. Games like this are good for this team, challenging us to execute and do things right all the way to the end.”
East Central travels to Alva at 1 p.m. today to battle Northwestern.
The Ada News sports editor, Jeff Cali, contributed to this report.