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

Lenoir-Rhyne Women’s Basketball Season Ends in NCAA Tournament

The Lenoir-Rhyne Women’s Basketball Team saw its historic 2022-23 season come to an end in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament in a loss to Clayton State, 65-48. The Lakers used a 14-0 run late in the fourth quarter to pull away after the Bears tied it at 45.

In the first half, thanks to some hot shooting, the Lakers raced out to an early 15-5 lead. LR answered with an 8-0 spurt to pull within two as Blaikley Crooks had eight of the first 13 LR points. The Lakers missed seven straight shots in the Bears run.

The two defenses combine to force 41 turnovers per game and it was more of the same in the first quarter. LR turned it over eight times and Clayton St. gave it away on six occasions. CSU would take a 20-13 lead after the first 10 minutes.

The Bears went ice cold in the second quarter, scoring just six points in the first 8:26 of the frame. However, Clayton St. had just eight in that stretch as turnovers continued to dominate the story. The half ended with Clayton St. leading 28-20 and forcing LR to 17 turnovers. Clayton St. shot just 30 percent from the field but had 14 more field goal attempts thanks to 10 offensive rebounds and the 17 forced turnovers.

LR started the second half out hot with 14 of the first 20 points to cut the even the game at 34. A Brandi Hudson free throw with just over four minutes left in the third quarter gave LR its first lead of the game at 35-34.

The LR run continued with a Harman bucket at the 1:50 mark to make it 40-34 LR as the Bears used a 15-0 run. LR held CSU scoreless for 5:28 of the quarter. The quarter would end with LR holding a 41-38 edge.

Clayton St. would start the fourth quarter on a 7-2 run and reclaimed a 45-43 lead. After LR evened it at 45, Clayton St. ran away with the game thanks to a 14-0 run.

CSU came into the game as the 13th best offensive rebounding team in the nation.

This was just the sixth NCAA Tournament appearance for the Bears. LR drops to 1-6 in those contests. It is the third time the Bears were the No. 4 seed in the Southeast Regional. The last time the Bears were the No. 4 seed in 2013, Clayton State hosted the regional.

The 24 wins this season for LR tied for the most since 2008-09.

The season ends for the Bears at 24-8.