Down 13 points early in the second quarter, Cassandra McWhorter just wanted her team to give itself a chance to get back in the game.
And the Patriots got that chance, trimming Owensboro Catholic’s lead to three points on four occasions. But the Patriots cold shooting eventually did them in as they fell 66-55 in the first round of the state tournament at Diddle Arena.
“This is not where we want to be sitting right now. We wanted to get that game in hand. We didn’t come out to a good start in the first quarter, weren’t able to put the ball in the hole,” Lincoln coach Cassandra McWhorter said. “Definitely not where we thought we would be. We wanted to get back to that Final Four and even more. We had a taste of it last year and we wanted to come back this year and make another run.”
But a 24 of 63 shooting effort, including 3-for-22 from 3-point range, pretty much sealed Lincoln’s fate and prevented another run to the state semifinals.
“You don’t shoot the ball great every night and I felt our girls were ready to go,” McWhorter said. “We’d been shooting the ball well in practices. Just sometimes you have those games where the ball is not going in the hole and it hits every part of the rim except going through the bottom of the net.
“The first half especially, we didn’t shoot it well. We bounced back the second half and got a lot more shots to fall, but overall 38 percent that’s not our normal.”
Sydney Harris was 8 of 13 from the floor and scored 18 points while grabbing seven rebounds to lead Lincoln, which finished its season 27-6. Emily Fox scored 13 points, but was just 6 of 19 from the floor.
“They just weren’t going in,” said Fox, who was 1 of 7 from 3-point range. “In practice, we were doing well and getting a lot of shots up and they just were not going in tonight.”
But despite that poor shooting, Lincoln managed to rally from a 13-point deficit and trailed just 33-26 at the half.
“We regrouped at halftime. I told them the momentum was in our favor,” McWhorter said. “We made a run and cut it to seven. I thought came out did some things well, just never could get it to where we wanted it to be.”
Lincoln used a 6-0 run, with jumpers from Kourtney Belcher and Harris and a post bucket from Harris to get within 37-34 with 3:36 left in the third. A steal from Rachel Spangler and jumper in the paint from Fox made it 42-39 with 1:04 left in the third.
Spencer Sims’ jumper from the elbow trimmed the Aces’ lead to 46-41 entering the fourth quarter, and Harris’ drive on the Aces’ Becca Greenwell cut it to 46-43 19 seconds into the final quarter.
But that was as close as Lincoln would get, as the Patriots continued to miss shots and turn the ball over.
“We just could never get over that hump. We kept getting stops, and we were sometimes able to score,” McWhorter said. “But we were abel to stay in it. We just were never able to get that lead.”
A three-point play from Kaylyn Pearson upped the lead to 49-43 with 7:18 to play, and Lincoln never got closer than six points from there. But the Patriots did not go down without a fight.
Down 60-50, Fox scored on a drive, then Harris scored off a steal from Ciara Saylor to make it 60-5 with 2:03 to go. But Pearson hit two free throws to get the lead back to 10 with 1:32 to play.
The Aces were 18 of 20 at the line in the fourth quarter and finished 31 of 40 for the game. Lincoln went just 4 of 6 from the line.
“We didn’t do a good job attacking the rim early,” McWhorter said. “But when a team shoots 40 attempts and you just shoot six, that’s hard to overcome. That makes it tough.”
Greenwell scored 24 of her game-high 32 points in the first half and grabbed 12 rebounds as the Aces held a 34-27 edge on the glass.