Lady Badgers upset second seed in first round, then fall to SLCC champs
SALT LAKE CITY—The Lady Badgers were not expected to be championship contenders, but Snow had other ideas.
Snow College’s women’s basketball team upset No. 2-seeded Southern Idaho, 54-52, in the first round of the Scenic West Athletic Conference tournament to put themselves in the championship game against top-seeded Salt Lake, who overwhelmed the Lady Badgers, 67-40, en route to the SWAC championship.
“I always felt that we were the ones who could be there,” head coach Mike Russell said. “We knew we had a good chance going into that game with Southern Idaho.”
Despite the season ending with a putrid loss, the Lady Badgers can hold their heads high for being in the championship game in the first place, far outperforming their 14-13 regular season record.
Coming into the first round labeled as underdogs, Snow had already lost to the Lady Eagles three times this season. The Lady Badgers stayed close to Southern Idaho all game long, behind by two at the half, 26-24. Snow’s freshman Jazmin Chavez ended the half halfway to a double-double with seven points and five rebounds. Leading with defense, the Lady Badgers held the Lady Eagle’s to 34 percent shooting in the first half, thus maintaining the small point margin between the two.
The second half did not show much promise as Southern Idaho pulled ahead in the third quarter by four.
It all came down to a rally in the fourth. With four minutes remaining, freshman Harley Hansen drew an and-one and sunk the free throw to tie the score at 46. The teams continued to trade baskets until freshman Madison Mooring hit a clutch three-pointer with three minutes remaining. Chavez scored in the next possession to keep the lead, 53-52. With a minute remaining, the Lady Badgers found themselves leading by two after a free throw by Mooring.
Snow nearly iced it when Chavez stole the ball on the next possession with 37 seconds remaining, but Mooring failed to hit the ensuing shot. With six seconds on the clock, Southern Idaho inbounded the ball and tried to set up a shot, but the Snow defense smothered them. A desperation heave at the last second went wide, and the Lady Badgers were in the championship.
Hansen and Chavez led Snow in scoring with 12 points each, while Chavez grabbed eight boards. Snow benefitted from spread out scoring and a solid shooting night for the whole night, hitting 48 percent of their shots.
At 6:32 a.m. the following morning, Snow got a brand new teammate. Hazel Rae Russell, the newest daughter of Coach Russell, was born the morning of the championship game.
Snow came crashing down in what would be their final game of the season against No. 6-ranked Salt Lake. The Lady Bruins played a stifling pressure defense and never let up.
“I felt like they imposed their will pretty early,” Russell said. “They were so defensive that we couldn’t even get an offense. A lot of shots that could’ve gone in didn’t.”
The game looked like a foregone conclusion by halftime with the Lady Bruins leading, 37-13. In the first half, Snow shot a mere 25 percent from the field, with a 1-8 mark from three. The Lady Badgers continued to take the fight into the second half, improving their shooting to 43 percent, but the game never got anywhere close to competitive. Salt Lake extended their lead to 30 on multiple occasions.
Hansen had a mere 10 points to lead the Lady Badgers. The biggest killer stat was the Lady Badgers’ 26 turnovers in the game.
“Just to be there is great for our program,” Russell said, “especially with how many freshmen we played this year.”