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Blaikley Crooks
Freedom grad Blaikley Crooks led the Bears with 16 points.
photo courtesy of Lenoir-Rhyne Athletics

L-R Women’s Basketball Falls in Regular Season Finale

Blaikley Crooks, a Freedom High grad, scored a career-high 34 points were not enough as the Lenoir-Rhyne Women’s Basketball team fell 80-77 on the road at UVA-Wise in the 2022-23 regular season finale. The Bears will now turn their attention to the post season as the Bears will travel to Tusculum on Wednesday for the SAC Quarterfinals.

Crooks scored 12 of the Bears 20 first quarter points as LR led 20-14 after the first quarter. Both teams shot 40% from the floor in the first quarter but eight turnovers by the Cavs led to eight more shots for the Bears.

After watching the Cavs go on an 11-0 run to take a seven point lead, the Bears responded with a 7-0 run of their own as the Bears took a 41-40 edge into the break. Crooks scored 22 in the first half for her fifth 20-point performance of the year.

Nia Vanzant scored 14 points for Wise in the third quarter as the Cavs hit 11 of 14 from the floor (78%) to open a 65-54 lead heading into the final quarter. An 8-2 run led by six points from Brandi Hudson cut the lead to 67-62 with 6:20 left.

After the Cavs reopened a nine point lead, Harman scored six straight then Crooks hit 4-4 from the free throw line to tie the game at 73 with 2:37 left. After Wise took the lead again, Hudson made a layup to cut the lead to 78-77 with 13 seconds left. Vanzant hit both of her free throws to push the lead back to three.

The Bears had two looks at it but both Harman and Crooks missed game tying three-pointers in the final possession as the Bears dropped their regular season finale 80-77.

Crooks had a game-high and a career-best 34 points as the junior went 13-23 from the floor and 8-of-10 from the charity strip. Harman added 16 points and seven assists in 38 minutes of action. Hudson had 11 of her 14 in the second half and added seven rebounds.

The Bears came in fourth in the NCAA regional rankings this week behind Catawba, Wingate and Georgia Southwestern. Both games this week finished with the same 80-77 score as the Bears fell at Carson-Newman on Monday by the same score. LR has dropped five straight games against the Cavs.

Crooks went over the 400 points mark for this season and the junior went over 700 career points. Crooks also averaged 20.1 points in the eight games this February. To top it off, Crooks is the first Bears to score 30+ plus points in a game since Emily Harman scored 39 against Anderson on December 15, 2021.

Lenoir-Rhyne falls to 21-7, 11-7 in the South Atlantic Conference. The Bears will travel to Tusculum for the SAC Quarterfinals on Wednesday.