LAKELAND, Fla.—For the second time in as many years, the Southeastern women’s basketball team finished the regular season with an undefeated record thanks to a 99-54 thrashing of St. Thomas.
With SEU leading 9-7 with 5:40 left in the opening period, it seemed as if the Bobcats would give the Fire a run for their money on senior day; however, Southeastern quickly silenced that notion. The Fire ended the quarter on a 20-2 run, knocking down all six of their field goal attempts and converting on five free throws to lead 29-9 after ten minutes.
After shooting 71.4% in the initial quarter, SEU struggled from the field by their standards, giving the Bobcats a slight glimmer of hope. The Fire missed ten of their first 11 shots of the second frame and turned the ball over four times to allow St. Thomas to cut its deficit down to 12 points.
The top team in the country would respond by connecting from downtown. Following the Bobcats’ run, Southeastern drained four straight three-pointers, two from junior Jaycee Coe, and one each from Ana Richter and Halee Printz, closing the half with a 12-2 stretch to go into the lockerroom up 50-22. Coe (12), Richter (12), and Printz (10) all scored double-digits to lead the Fire going into the break.
Coach Tim Hays was extremely happy with his team’s response to STU’s run and how their ability to make adjustments differed from the first meeting of the season with the Bobcats. “I think the difference between the first meeting and today’s game was when we had the lead, we stayed consistent and we stayed focused on what we needed to. The adjustment was staying consistent for 40 minutes. We stuck to what we wanted to do tonight and didn’t let that run (in the second quarter) rattle us”, said Hays.
The Fire continued their dominance in the second half of play, locking down on defense in the third quarter especially. Southeastern forced six turnovers and held St. Thomas to just 2-14 (14.3%) shooting in the frame.
Anissa Toumi scored eight of her 15 points in the quarter, as the Fire jumped out to a 34-point advantage after three.
Southeastern’s chemistry and ability to share the ball with each other was a dominating factor in the contest with the Fire dishing out a total of 29 assists to St. Thomas’ mere 11. Five SEU players tallied at least four helpers, led by Marlena Schmidt, who notched six assists in addition to her eight points and six boards.
Despite the undefeated regular season, number one ranking and numerous individual and team accolades, the team’s focus remains on enjoying the game and each other. Richter, who was honored before playing her final regular season game in the Furnace, noted, “I think we went out and had fun for each other today. Ultimately, we had fun and that’s all that matters.”
The senior scored a game-high 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to collect her sixth double-double of the year. Emma Karamovic added 17 points on 6-12 shooting to contribute in the 45-point victory.
Southeastern will look to remain consistent and continue to have fun when the team takes the court in their Sun Conference Tournament semifinal on Friday. The game is scheduled for 5 p.m. in the Furnace.