Clarksville, Ark.-The Lady Eagles came up short in their quest for an American Southwest Conference championship after a 82-67 loss to Hardin-Simmons University in the tournament's final game in Clarksville.
Hardin-Simmons, which has been nationally ranked all season, receives an automatic bid to the NCAA III tournament while Ozarks is a long shot to receive an at large bid to the tournament. The Lady Eagles finish the season as East Division co-champions and end with a final record of 19-7. Neither team shot well in the first half. Hardin-Simmons shot just 38 percent from the field while Ozarks shot 35 percent. The Lady Eagles fell behind 35-26 after one half of play and were unable to recover in the second half. "The difference in today’s game is that we got ourselves into foul trouble," said head coach Jack Jones. "We had to sit some key players down because they had three and four fouls early in the second half. Mandy got herself into foul trouble and she is the type of player that needs to be on the floor as much as possible for us. Jenna also fouled out in the game. She plays so aggressive and likes to mix it up. We didn’t have the depth they did." Junior guard Kristy Watts scored 21 points and hit 9-of-10 free throws to lead Ozarks. Mandy Thomas and Jenna Corbell each scored 13 points. "Watts played with a lot of intensity," said Jones. "She played hard and I think she’s going to be a player that people will have to look at next season. I feel like she will be one of the premier players in the conference next year. Our other guards did a fantastic job all year long considering they were inexperienced." Senior Christie Shuffield finished with 9 points and 10 rebounds to end her career in which she finished as Ozarks’ fourth leading scorer and rebounder. She is the career leader in blocked shots. Sarah Williams and Charity Tyree scored 4 and 3 points, respectively, in their final game of their careers. Hardin-Simmons’ Kendra Anderson was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament. Anderson was joined by teammates Lauren Harris and Andrea Burrows on the all-tournament team. Mandy Thomas and Kristy Watts earned a spot on the all-tournament team. East Texas Baptist was represented by Tanasha Ellis and Howard Payne’s Kristy Lyons was also selected.