Troy (12-18) closes the second season under head coach Chanda Rigby with its second straight five-win improvement, but the Trojans wanted more, including the first Sun Belt semifinal appearance in program history.
A 12-0 run by UALR (18-11) in the first half allowed them to build an eight-point halftime advantage at 36-28. However, Kourtney Coleman gave Troy a spark to start the second half, getting her team within two points, 42-40.
Coleman finished with 20 points, the second 20-point game of her career and the second in 10 days. She was 8-of-12 from the field, including two 3-pointers. However, Troy could never any closer than the two points deficit.
UALR, the tournament’s third seed, used a 10-2 to build the lead back up to 10 points with 12:52 to go. The lead hovered around that mark until Troy, the tournament’s sixth seed went scoreless for over 7:00 down the stretch.
After a Joanna Harden jumper with 8:04 to go cut the lead to six at 58-52, Troy didn’t scored until under 1:00 to go when the deficit was up to 14 points. Over that span, Troy missed 12 straight shots.
Harden finished with 10 points, snapping a streak of 15 straight games with 20-plus points. Harden finishes the season with a scoring average of 25.1 points per game, breaking the Troy all-time record of 22.6 that had stood since 1989-90.
A first team All-Sun Belt selection, Harden also became just the sixth player in Sun Belt’s 32-year history (1982-present) to average 25-plus points in a season.
Wednesday’s quarterfinal loss was the final game of the career for three Troy seniors, including Harden, Brooke Bowie and Dominique Ross.
“We’re fighting very hard to represent Tory University in the best way we can,” Rigby said. “We’re trying very hard to build a championship program and I think we laid a lot of great groundwork this year, but it wasn’t our time.”
UALR was led on Wednesday night by Taylor Ford who scored 21 points on 9-of-13 shooting. Three other UALR players scored in double digits, including Kiera Clark who had a game-high seven assists to go along with 12 points, and Shanity James who led all with 13 rebounds to go along with 11 points.
UALR advances to face WKU in Friday’s semifinal. Arkansas State and Texas State also won quarterfinals on Wednesday.
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