Justin Chapman | Echo
The women's basketball team believed in each other all year and knew they possessed the potential to make a deep run in the NAIA National Tournament.
However, their successful season ended earlier than they wanted. Last Friday, the Trojans were sent home by Concordia in a 71-50 loss in the round of 16 in the NAIA National Tournament. The Trojans' final record now stands at 24-11.
According to head coach Jody Martinez, the Trojans did not receive the easiest path in the tournament, considering Concordia held the No. 1 spot in the NAIA rankings for most of the season and was a No. 1 seed in the tournament.
"(Concordia's) depth allows them to play the same way, so it's like they have 10 identical players," Martinez said. "It would be like if I had 10 (junior Kendall Bradbury's), how would I play 10 Kendall's?"
Martinez said if Taylor played any other team in the game Friday, the Trojans would have made a deeper run in the tournament.
Junior guard Aubrey Wright emphasized how difficult it was to prepare for a team like Concordia in such a small time span.
"We didn't have control of the tempo of the game most of the time," Wright said. "I feel like if we would have had a little bit more time to prepare we would have been more ready for (tempo). We kind of took (the issue) lightly at first and then realized too late. That third quarter definitely hit us hard."
Concordia struck fast and ended the first quarter leading the Trojans 21-9. In the third quarter, the Trojans were outscored 26-13. Entering the fourth quarter down 58-35, the odds of a comeback were slim.
Although this group wanted to go farther in the tournament, their season was impressive by bouncing back from a losing season last year.
After going 13-18 last season, the hopes for this season felt unclear with a new coach and a team in which no player on the roster had experienced a season in which they won over 16 games.
This year, the Trojans won the most games since their 2006-07 season, in which they won 23 games.
Senior forward Cassidy Wyse said she could not have asked for anything better to end her senior year. Going to Iowa with the team and experiencing the NAIA National Tournament together created memories that will last a lifetime.
"Looking back on the season, I am grateful for our coaching staff that we were blessed with and the hard work of each girl on the team," Wyse said. "Everyone pushed themselves, and got better for the team, and as a senior, that's all you can ask for."
The Trojans end this season graduating three seniors: guards Josie Cobb, Sierra Wilson and Wyse.
Cobb ended this year averaging 10.4 points per game and 4.8 rebounds per game, both career highs for her. Wyse ended this year averaging 13.5 points per game and 6.3 rebounds per game. Wilson ended this year averaging 0.7 points per game and 0.6 rebounds per game.
The Trojans hold hope heading into next year, knowing they can compete with anyone after a NAIA National Tournament run this year.
"Photograph by Brad Timmerman"