CANYON, Texas (GoThunderWolves.com – Mar. 14, 2014) — The Colorado State University-Pueblo ThunderWolf women's basketball team saw a dream season come to an end as the Pack dropped a 63-57 decision to St. Mary's (Texas) University in the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Division II South Central Regional, Friday evening here at West Texas A&M University's First United Bank Center.
The Pack, who never led, were down by as many as 11 (24-13) in the first half but sliced the deficit to just six (28-22) at the break, thank to a 9-4 run over the last eight minutes of the half.
CSU-Pueblo then tied the defensive game at 33 with 9:35 to go but could never take the lead as the Rattlers built the lead back to double-figures with less than a minute to go.
"We just couldn't get over the hump," Pack head coach Kip Drown said in a post-game radio interview.
"I told our kids that it hurts now but we'll step back and look at the big picture," he commented about a season that saw the Pack go 22-9 while matching a school-record for wins.
Picked seventh amongst 14 teams in the pre-season Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference coaches' poll, the Pack went 18-4 in RMAC play to finish second in the regular season while earning their highest-ever seed (No. 4) for a NCAA Tournament appearance.
The NCAA trip was the sixth for the Pack since 2006 and the fifth in the last seven years alone.
"I have nothing but praises for the kids. They've been outstanding to coach. The seniors gave us some great leadership and each had great seasons. We have some big shoes to fill," Drown said about his four seniors – Alex Evans (Sr., Louisville, Colo.), Taylor Fox (Sr., Santa Cruz, Calif.), Jenay Locke (Sr., Gilbert, Ariz.) and Paige Ramm (Sr., Prescott, Ariz.).
Evans finished Friday's game with a team-high 15 points while Ramm and junior Katie Nehf (Broomfield, Colo.) chipped in 11 each. Nehf also had 11 rebounds to record her second double-double in as many NCAA Tournament games.
Meanwhile, Ashley Piper (So., Cedar Rapids, Iowa) scored a season-high 13 points coming off the bench.
St. Mary's, which improved to 20-9 overall with their second all-time NCAA Tournament win, was led by Jackie Woods, who hit four 3-pointers while scoring 17 points. Morgan Pullins added 16 while Kiara Etheridge had a monster 16-rebound game to help make up for her seven turnovers.
"I credit St. Mary's. They stepped up and created the shots they needed to," Drown said.
The Rattlers shot just 31.6 percent (18-57) from the field but made eight 3-pointers while shooting 36.4 percent from beyond the arc. The ThunderWolves shot 33.3 percent (17-51) from the field but were just 5-for-27 (18.5 percent) from the arc. The Rattlers, who advance to play top-seeded and host West Texas A&M on Saturday, also had a 44-36 edge in rebounds.