LUBBOCK, Texas — The record-setting season by the Casper College women’s basketball team came to a crashing halt Tuesday with a 68-60 loss to Three Rivers College (Missouri) in the second round of the National Junior College Athletics Association national tournament.
The Thunderbirds (22-2) won their first 22 games of the season, but lost to Otero Junior College in the Region IX championship game on April 9 and had their worst shooting performance of the season in Tuesday’s loss. Casper College came into the game leading the nation in field-goal shooting (46.7%), No. 3 in 3-point shooting (41.3%) and No. 4 in free-throw shooting (74.4%). Against the Raiders (23-0), however, the T-Birds were just 25 of 65 (38%) from the field, 5 of 26 (19%) behind the arc and just 5 of 15 (33.3%) from the charity stripe.
The Thunderbirds are coached by Dwight Gunnare, who was a high school coach at Colstrip and later coached at Miles Community College.
Kobe King-Hawea finished with a game-high 17 points, but Kammie Ragsdale was the only other T-Bird to finish in double figures with 13 points. Natalia Otkhmezuri, the nation’s third-leading 3-point shooter, was just 1 of 7 from behind the arc and had nine points.
King-Hawea had eight points early to give the T-Birds an 11-2 lead before Three Rivers went on a 14-0 run, including four consecutive 3-pointers, to take the lead. Ragsdale scored inside to put the T-Birds ahead 20-19 early in the second quarter and later added a free throw to tie the game at 21-all. A 10-0 run by the Raiders helped them take a 36-26 advantage into the half.
Ragsdale opened the second half with back-to-back baskets to cut the margin to 36-30. Minutes later, a layup from King-Hawea and a free throw from Belen Morales Lopez trimmed the deficit to 40-35 before back-to-back 3-pointers from the Raiders pushed the lead to double digits.
The T-Birds stayed within striking distance in the fourth quarter — King-Hawea’s 3-pointer with just over a minute remaining pulled them within 62-57 — but Three Rivers made 5 of 8 free throws down the stretch to hold on for the win.