JACKSON, Miss. — The Centre Colonels finally found the best way to neutralize Hendrix’s Christina Byler on Saturday night.
They got her out of the game.
Byler, the Warriors’ post player, picked up her fourth foul with the score tied at 54 with 8:31 left in a Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference women’s semifinal game at the Hangar Dome.
That allowed the Colonels to overpower the Warriors in the paint and launch an 11-0 run that gave them the cushion they needed for an 86-77 victory that apparently ended the Warriors season at 20-5. Hendrix has an longshot chance of gaining the NCAA Division III playoffs as an at-large team, but since the Warriors were not ranked among the South Region’s top six teams going into the tournament, it is believed they had to at least reach the championship game to have a chance at that.
Before fouling out with 2:03 left, Byler scored 30 points and had nine rebounds in the contest that featured eight ties and eight lead changes.
That was countered by the Colonels’ Lauren Huter, who had 22 points and 11 rebounds. She scored the first eight points of the second half in sparking the Coloniels from a 37-34 deficit to a 44-37 lead.
The Colonels shot 65.4 percent form the field the second half and 53.7 percent for the game. Hendrix shot 37.5 percent the second half and 40.7 percent for the game.
Centre (19-7), which avenged a loss earlier in the season to the Warriors, will play DePauw in today’s women’s title game.
Trailing by nine with 14:10 left, the Warriors fought back on baskets by Lindsay Merritt, Samantha Devlin and Byler and free throws by Anna Roane to tie the game at 54 with 8:31 left, which Byler picked up her fourth foul.
A 3-pointer by Devlin gave the Warriors their last lead of the game at 57-54 before Huter Chelsea Goodman and Maggie Prewitt produced an 11-0 run by the Colonels.
Hendrix drew within 65-60 before Prewitt scored off a turnover, then produced a steal and a layup to increase the lead to nine, where it mostly stayed the rest of the game.
Devlin had 13 points and Jordan Henderson and Chelsey White nine each for the Warriors, the West Division championshp.
Centre had 17 fast-break points and placed three players in double figures in addition to Huter: Chelsea Benham (18), Prewitt (16) and Goodman (14).
The men’s and women’s all-conference teams were announced at the tournament.
Byler made the 10-player women’s team. Austin College’s Katy Williams was Player of the Year and the Roos’ Deb Hunter was Coach of the Year. Sharwil Bell of Rhodes was Newcomer of the Year and Katie Mathews of DePauw was Defensive Player of the Year. It was the third All-SCAC selection for Byler, who is second in the nation with a 91.5 free-throw percentage, the second highest in league history.
Kola Alade of Austin College was men’s player of the year and AC’s Rodney Wecker Coach of the Year. Andrew Galow of Rhodes and Jasen Junus of Birmingham Southern were co- Newcomers of the Year. Alex Lloyd of Centre was Defensive Player of the Year.