Pack’s rally comes up short in OT nailbiter with West Texas

Pack’s rally comes up short in OT nailbiter with West Texas

PUEBLO, Colo. (March 11, 2017) Down 13 at the half, Colorado State University-Pueblo Women's Basketball rallied to force overtime. However, in the extra period, the Pack's record setting season came to a halt as the West Texas A&M University Lady Buffs handed the ThunderWolves a 70-67 loss to eliminate the No.1 seeded Pack from the NCAA Tournament in front of a raucous crowd Saturday night.

The Pack finished the 2016-17 season with their best record in school history, at 28-4. They earned the No.1 seed and hosted an NCAA Regional for the first time ever. The Lady Buffs advance to the NCAA South Central Regional Championship game Monday night against Angelo State University at Massari Arena.

Senior Jaszymn Johnson (Denver, Colo.) scored a career-high 22 points in what would go on to be her final game in a Pack uniform. Johnson did most of her damage in the second half with 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting, including 4-of-5 from deep in the final 25 minutes of the game.

Johnson drained a career-high five 3-pointers off the bench, going 5-for-9 from deep. She also recorded seven rebounds and two steals.

Even with Johnson's 22-point outing, the Pack had a cold night shooting the ball. CSU-Pueblo made just 27.3 percent from the field. The Pack went 9-of-31 from downtown. West Texas shot 48.1 percent from the field and knocked down 41.7 percent from long range. The ThunderWolves held a decisive edge at the free throw line, swishing 22-of-27 tries from the charity stripe.

Molly Rohrer (So., Greenwood Village, Colo.) made up a large part of the Pack's success at the line. Rohrer made all 10 of her free throw attempts as she finished with 16 points. The Pack's center also swatted four more shots, giving her nine blocks in two tournament games. Rohrer also corralled five rebounds and dealt out four assists.

Katie Cunningham (Jr., Aurora, Colo.) led all players with 12 rebounds. Cunningham finished with nine points on 6-of-8 shooting at the free throw line. She filled the stat sheet with three assists, one steal, and one block.

Rohrer gave the Pack the first two points of the game on a pair of free throws. This would be the Pack's only lead of the night. Midway through the first, the Lady Buffs unleashed a 7-0 run to take a 21-8 lead. Tuileisu Anderson (Jr., Vancouver, Wash.) hit a buzzer beater to make it 21-12 after one.

Early in the second quarter, the Pack closed within six as a Johnson 3-pointer made it 26-20. However, every time it seemed like the Pack had built momentum, West Texas found an answer. The Lady Buffs weathered the storm and closed the quarter on a 7-0 run that handed them a 40-27haltime lead.

The defense took over for both teams in the third quarter. Neither team made a shot from the field for the first 5:27 of the second half. Johnson ended this field goal drought for the Pack with another 3-pointer that brought the Pack back within seven at 41-34. The lead would stay at seven as the Lady Buffs held a 48-41 advantage after three.

In the fourth, West Texas built its lead back up to 10, making it 55-45 with 6:27 left to play.  The Massari Arena faithful cheered on the Pack as they began to rally and visibly bothered West Texas. CSU-Pueblo went on an 11-3 run to make it a one possession game with 1:42 to go.

The Lady Buffs scored another bucket to go up 60-56. Down four in the final minute, Katie Jones (Jr., Baldwin,) knocked down a clutch 3-pointer to make it a 60-59 game with 52 seconds left. A Pack free throw would tie game at 60. Jones came up with a steal on the Lady Buffs last possession of regulation to force overtime.

West Texas took the lead early in the extra frame with the first five points of overtime. A pair of Rohrer lay ups made it a one-point game once again. Three consecutive points for West Texas made it a four-point lead. Anderson answered with three of her 12 points to bring the Pack back within one. A pair of free throws for West Texas made it 70-67 with 13 seconds to go. CSU-Pueblo had two chances to tie it and force a second overtime, but they could not get a shot to fall as the Lady Buffs upset the No.1 seeded Pack.

Despite the loss, the Pack still celebrates the best season in school history. They matched the best finish in school history by advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for just the second time ever.  

The Pack will look to improve their finish in 2017-18. All five starters on this year's Pack team are underclassmen and likely to return next season.

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As a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, Colorado State University – Pueblo competes in 22 varsity sports in NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletics.