San Antonio–Jasmine Smith’s lay-up off a rebound with six seconds left was the difference as the University of the Incarnate Word upset 16th-ranked St. Mary’s University in the championship game of the 2009 Heartland Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament, held on Saturday at Bill Greehey Arena.
The two teams battled back and forth in a classic Heartland Conference Tournament championship game, with 11 ties and nine lead changes. The 11th tie of the game came with 22 seconds left when Natalie Gamez (Sr., San Antonio) hit a pair of free throws to make the score 59-59. Nia Torru then brought the ball down the court for the Cardinals and missed her first shot, then missed again after rebounding the first miss. Smith grabbed the rebound and put the ball in from two feet away to give the Cardinals the lead. Rachel Jones’ (Sr., Little Rock, Ark.) desperation three-pointer at the buzzer was off, giving the Cardinals the conference crown.
Jones led the Rattlers with 20 points on 7-of-17 shooting from the field. She also pulled down five rebounds, made six steals and dished out three assists. Mallory Moeller (So., Seguin) also reached double figures with 17 points on 5-of-8 shooting and pulled down five rebounds. Ashton Benford (Sr., Waxahachie) had 11 points and five rebounds.
With the loss the Rattlers fell to 24-5 this season. Incarnate Word improved to 21-8. UIW secured the conference’s automatic berth into the NCAA South Central Region with the win. The Rattlers, who are currently ranked fourth in the region, will likely get an at-large bid to the tournament. Seedings for the tournament will be announced on Sunday at 9 p.m. by the NCAA Selection Committee.
2009 Heartland Conference Championship
MVP – Jasmine Smith, Incarnate Word
Edricka Thomas, Incarnate Word
Rachel Jones, St. Mary’s
Mallory Moeller, St. Mary’s
Sara Head, St. Edward’s
Krystal Manning, Texas A&M-International