Buffs,Lady Buffs wrap up conference tourney action, learn national tournament fate

Skyler+O%27Laughlin+looks+to+lead+the+Buffs+to+a+deep+post-season+run+in+regionals+in+Golden%2C+Colo.
Skyler O'Laughlin looks to lead the Buffs to a deep post-season run in regionals in Golden, Colo.

Skyler O'Laughlin looks to lead the Buffs to a deep post-season run in regionals in Golden, Colo.

Nick Alvarado

Nick Alvarado

Skyler O'Laughlin looks to lead the Buffs to a deep post-season run in regionals in Golden, Colo.

Nick Alvarado, Reporter

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The West Texas A&M men’s and women’s basketball teams took part in the Lone Star Conference tournament with their final push to improve their seeding in the regional tournament.

For the Lady Buffs, it was a solid showing as they finished as conference semi-finalists after falling to Angelo State, 70-68, with another nail-biting finish.

The Lady Buffs have been eliminated by the Rambelles in back-to-back seasons in the LSC tournament.

Senior forward Sasha Watson guided the Lady Buffs to a 6-0 run that tied the game at 64 in the final 2:35 of the game. Lexi Murphy was huge for the Belles, as she hit a pivotal mid-range jumper with 1:30 left in the game that saw ASU back on top.

ASU guard Taylor Dorsey was the playmaker, chipping in a game-high 35 points that knocked off WT from the tournament, which also ties seventh all-time in conference tournament history.

Senior guard Alie Decker finished with a team high 24 points. Watson finished close behind, tallying 21 on the night.

Prior to the semifinal loss, the Lady Buffs were held to a season low shooting in a half but were able to earn the quarterfinal victory courtesy of Wild, Parker and Vander Zee.

“TWU is a great team,” WTAMU women’s coach Kristen Mattio said. “They played strong defense and had a great game plan. We held them to 25 points at half, and on the defensive end, we were great. All of the adjustments had to come on our offensive end.”

The Lady Buffs got behind senior forward Maddison Wild, who sparked a 10-2 run as she scored eight straight points that saw WT with the lead, 30-27, with 3:50 left in the quarter.

Idalou native and senior Bailey Thiel also was key down the stretch for the Lady Buffs, knocking down two straight shots with the help of Madison Parker and Sydney Walton to stretch the lead to 10 after playing three quarters.

With more improved shooting in the fourth quarter, the Lady Buffs pulled away from the Lady Pioneers as they outscored TWU 23-8 in the fourth quarter.

“I think we settled down,” said Parker, who finished with 14 points in the game. “Everyone took a deep breath in the locker room at halftime.”

The Buffs had a tough time at the LSC tourney, bowing out of their opening game by falling to A&M-Kingsville, 68-63.

David Chavlovich was absent from the team, as he picked up his third technical of the season in the season finale against Tarleton and had to sit out the next game per conference rule.

With a key player not on the floor, others stepped up in place for Chavlovich. Eric Golightly Jr. tallied 17 points in the loss, as he stepped up to lead the team. Ryan Quaid evened Golightly Jr.’s tally, as he shot five-for-seven from the field.

The Lady Buffs were announced as the four seed in the south central region on Sunday night, where they will face Regis. If winners of their first round match-up, the Lady Buffs would await the winner of hosts Colorado State – Pueblo and conference rival Tarleton, who won the Lone Star Conference tournament over Angelo State. The Belles face off against Heartland Conference champions St. Edward’s, who toppled defending national champion Lubbock Christian and bumped the Lady Caps out of the field of 64. The Lady Hounds of Eastern New Mexico will be the six seed as they are facing off against Colorado Springs.

“I don’t think it tilt us one way or another,” Mattio said. “It’s nice to play a non-Lone Star Conference team. Regis has had a really good year, and that coach [Molly Marrin] is doing a good job there.”

As announced on NCAA.com, the Buffs will be the three seed in the region, as they will face off against a familiar opponent, A&M-Commerce, whom the Buffs defeated at home earlier in the season to get the regular season split. Three other Lone Star Conference rivals will join WT and Commerce in the regional bracket. Last year’s elite eight representative Tarleton was pitted against Fort Lewis with the winner potentially playing the Colorado Mines. After capturing the first conference title in their first year as a LSC member, UTPB will be making their first-ever appearance in the tournament field, where they will also face conference rival, A&M-Kingsville.

“I felt that we would get Commerce to be honest,” WT men’s basketball coach Tom Brown said. “It’s going to be a tough opponent. We split in the regular season, so it will be a tough game. That whole side of the bracket is LSC and it is like a mini-LSC tournament just to get to the sweet 16.”

Regional action will kick off in Pueblo, Colo. for the women on March 10 and March 11 for the men, who will travel to Golden, Colo for their respective regional action.

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