Disappointing end to NSU women's season
The Northeastern State women entered the MIAA tournament in Kansas City, Mo., sitting at the No. 8 spot in the Central Region. The RiverHawks knew they'd likely need at least one victory to feel confident about a NCAA tournament berth.
It never happened.
Instead, NSU was eliminated from the conference tournament in the quarterfinals following a 61-42 blowout loss to Fort Hays State.
"It was tough to take that loss," NSU guard Taylor Lewis said. "But definitely credit (Fort Hays State) for the way they played. We had a little bit of hope that maybe we could still make (the NCAA tournament), but it just didn't work out for us."
Clearing up his team's prognosis, NSU coach Randy Gipson said, "I think they only way we would have gotten in was if we won the tournament, just because there was the one spot left. I spoke to some people, and they said we were in if Emporia (State) didn't win the conference tournament."
Sure enough, Emporia State breezed to a 67-51 victory over Central Missouri in the championship game.
At that point, NSU's season was officially done.
It also closed out three storied careers with the RiverHawks. As freshmen, sophomores and juniors, Taylor Lewis, Tosha Tyler and Sarah Green had all helped the RiverHawks make the NCAA tournament during a three-year span. That run of good fortune ended during their senior years, though.
"You get what you get," said Lewis, who led the RiverHawks with a 16.5 scoring average this season. "I couldn't have asked for anything better; I've had a great four years. I'll never forget any of the girls and Coach Gipson and Coach (Matt) Cole. They've done a great job. I'll definitely have a lot of good memories."
NSU finished up this season 19-8 overall and 14-4 in league play.
With Lewis, Tyler and Green exiting, the RiverHawks will turn to Fontana Tate, Chelsey Stricklen, Carrington Fox, Taylor Collins and Melissa Jones as the torch-bearers next year.
"We feel good about the direction the program is going," said Gipson, who will also have Courtney Cowan and Lexie Lewis back in 2013-2014 after both sat out this year because of injuries. "You're not going to replace some of what we're losing here with these seniors, but you just try and do it in a different way."