The UT women’s basketball team split two contests in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament with a win over Seton Hall and a loss to Northwestern. The loss to Northwestern ended a solid season for a talented Rocket team.
Opening up NIT play against Seton Hall proved to be a tough task, as the Pirates from New Jersey fought to continue their season at Savage Arena.
The first quarter saw both squads vying for control, as a 9-2 Seton Hall run kept it close. Mikaela Boyd paced the Rockets early with seven points as they trailed the Pirates 18-17 at the end of the opening frame.
The second quarter proved to be the difference for both teams. Boyd kept hitting shots along with her teammates, as the Rockets dominated both ends of the floor on a 24-6 run.
Boyd’s 13 halftime points, and the Rockets’ 27-11 second quarter made the halftime score 44-29 in favor of the home team. The Pirates knew how to not end their season quietly, as they gave the Rockets everything they could handle in the second half.
The Pirates had their most points in a quarter in the third frame, when they scored 21 and kept the game within striking distance.
The fourth quarter became a battle, and Seton Hall cut the Rocket lead to as little as four, 66-62. However, the Rockets prevailed 71-65 as Boyd had 15 and Kaayla McIntyre had 16.
Rockets head coach Tricia Cullop notched win 241, to give her the most wins for a coach in women’s basketball program history.
The Rockets would then face the Wildcats of Northwestern, who came to Savage Arena with an upset on the mind.
At first, it appeared as if the Wildcats were destined for the same fate as Seton Hall. The Rockets’ defense came out stifling in the opening frame and the Wildcats did not find consistent scoring. Nakiah Black scored seven for the Rockets.
The second quarter was much more high scoring for both squads, but the Rockets still felt comfortable going into the break with a 29-20 lead. After intermission, it seemed Northwestern woke up as they clawed back into the game throughout the third quarter.
The Rockets were constricted to nine points in the third, and the Wildcats took the momentum and put together a 13-0 run that
sent them into the fourth quarter only down three.
The offensive woes that the Rockets experienced in the third continued in the fourth.
A 12-2 run to start the fourth gave the Wildcats a seven-point lead they never relinquished in route to a 54-47 Wildcat win.
The 25-2 run the Wildcats had between the third and fourth quarters proved too costly for the Rockets.
For the Rockets, their season ended at 21-12, but not without a lot of promise and hopes for next year as the Rockets will lose four seniors, but return with a lot of talent from this season.
“Disappointed in the score, but not in the efforts of our players,” said Cullop after the tough loss. “And just for our four seniors, I couldn’t be more honored to be their coach.”