CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Unable to recover from an early deficit, Anderson University women’s basketball fell to Queens University of Charlotte, 68-57, in its regular season finale Saturday evening at Curry Arena-Levine Center.
With the setback, the Trojans close the regular season with a 15-13 overall record and an even 11-11 mark in SAC play. Despite the loss, AU will take part in next week’s Food Lion SAC Tournament, earning the sixth seed and looking to upset No. 3 seed Lincoln Memorial in Harrogate on Wednesday night.
After having four players record double figures in its last three contests, sophomore guard Madison Floyd was the lone Anderson player to reach double digits, finishing the game with 12 points in 23 minutes. With the one Trojan in double figures, Anderson shot just 27.1 percent from the field, its lowest mark of the season. With the poor performance shooting the ball, AU also dropped the rebounding battle, 47-43.
“Madison Floyd was a big part of the scoring with 12 points,” Anderson head coach Jimmy Garrity said. “We could never get over the hump and take the lead. It’s hard to make a run when you shot 23 percent in the second half and 27 percent for the game. We had good looks, but our shots weren’t falling.”
Despite playing just eight players for the night, Queens recorded three players in double figures, as substitute Nikia Squire dropped in a game-high 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting and added eight rebounds. Squire was joined by Micha Cox with 18 points and Shonice Pettaway with a double-double 17 points and 17 rebounds as the Cox-Pettaway duo saw the floor for the full 40 minutes.
The Queens trio combined for just under 81 percent of the scoring for the evening, as the rest of the team combined for 13 points. For the game, the Royals shot 42.6 percent from the field and 40 percent from behind the 3-point line.
The Trojans began the game with one of their slowest starts of the season, spotting Queens 13 points in the first 4:10 of the game. In the span, Anderson was 0-for-4 from the field, committed two turnovers and was called for a foul three times.
After Queens took an early 17-4 lead, the Anderson offense began to come alive as junior Sierra Simpson answered the Royal attack with a steal and a lay-in. Following the basket, the Trojans conducted a 13-0 run which would even the score at 17-17. The spurt was capped off by a lay-in by junior center Jaclyn Moore.
Queens pushed its lead back out to six until AU countered with its second significant run of the half, tying the game at 25-25 with three minutes remaining. In this run, Anderson got points from Katie Davis, Simpson and Jennifer Monroe.
Despite evening the tally, Queens scored on back-to-back possessions, capped off by a 3-pointer from Abby Pettit, her only 3-pointer of the game, giving the home side a five-point edge. Pettit would close out the game with nine points. Facing the deficit, Floyd answered Pettit’s trey with her 3-pointer, bringing AU within two points.
Floyd tried to give Anderson its first lead on their next possession, but missed on another three-point attempt. Squire took advantage of the misfire and gave the Royals a four-point cushion at the end of the first half with a late lay-in. Squire would finish the first half with eight points, while Floyd closed the opening period with a game-high 12 points.
Anderson’s offense started quickly out of the locker room for the second half as junior Lesley Woods connected on back-to-back field goals, including her lone 3-pointer of the game at the 16:03 mark to even the score at 35-35. Woods, who found herself in foul trouble for the majority of the first half, never found a rhythm for the final 20 minutes, closing the contest with a 1-for-8 mark from behind the 3-point line.
After the 3-pointer, Pettaway connected on a free throw to give the Royals a one-point advantage, but a lead it would never give back. After Moore made two free throws at the 13:19 mark, Anderson was outscored 11-0 with AU’s next points not coming until the 8:58 point.
The Royals maintained their lead throughout the period, as the Trojans would come as close as five for the remainder of the game. Senior Emily Willoughby, who played her final regular season game, added a 3-pointer with 40 seconds left to bring the score 62-57, but clutch free throw shooting by Squire and Pettaway sealed the win in Queens’ final game of the 2013-14 season.
“This was a disappointing loss on the road,” Garrity said. “I give a lot of credit to Queens. They outplayed us and stepped up and made plays when they had opportunities. The good news is that we get to play another game. We need to put this loss behind us and get excited about the conference tournament.”
The Trojans shift their focus to the SAC Tournament, which they won a season ago. The matchup with LMU will be the first time AU will face the Lady Railsplitters in the conference tournament since joining the SAC prior to the 2010-11 season. Tip-off from Tex Turner Arena is set for 6 p.m.