Top-seeded Rust downs Dillard in GCAC women’s hoops semifinals

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TOUGALOO, Miss. – It was a game of runs, and the top seed rallied down the stretch to move on to the title game of the 2023 Hope Credit Union GCAC Women’s Basketball Championship. The Rust College Lady Bearcats pushed past the fifth-seeded Dillard University Lady Bleu Devils, 58-45.

Both teams came ready to play from the opening whistle. A quick three by Dekeriya Patterson for the Lady Bearcats and followed by consecutive layups by Dillard’s Alexis Gie and Jordyn Rowe started scoring for both teams this game. By the midway point of the first quarter, neither team could grasp a hold momentum as each team made strong defensive stops to keep the Lady Bearcats ahead by one, 8-7. The quarter would come to a close with offense being scarce for both teams, until a deep top of the arc by Faith Cattouse extended Rust’s lead to six, 15-9.

The second frame would be more of the same with the Lady Bearcats went up by eight while the Lady Bleu Devils tried to pick up the defensive intensity. As the quarter progressed towards the midpoint, Rust would use a 9-3 run to pull ahead by 12 points, 24-12. The Lady Bleu Devils would respond with back-to-back jumpers by Gie and Taylor Dewitt to cut into the lead but Rust followed with consecutive fast-break layups to push the point differential back into double digits. The first half concluded with the Lady Bearcats expanding their lead to 11, taking a 29-18 lead into the locker room.

The third stanza saw the Lady Bearcats use back-to-back baskets from Niya McGuire to pull ahead by 15. The Lady Bleu Devils attempted to string together a run to inch closer but Rust dug in its collective heels. By the end of the quarter, the lead had been cut down to nine, behind free throws from Dewitt.

The Lady Bearcats pushed their lead back to double digits, thanks to jumpers from Patterson and Lyric Turner early in the fourth quarter. The Lady Bleu Devils slowly clawed their way back into the game but were forced to burn a timeout at the 6:31 mark after an offensive explosion from Rust, capped with another Patterson trey to push the lead to 16, 50-34. An offensive flurry brought the Lady Bearcats lead down to eight. However, it would be too late for Dillard as successful trips to the free throw line by Katie Blackmon and Madison Riley put the game away for good and punched Rust’s ticket into the championship with a final score of 58-45.

The No. 1 Rust College Lady Bearcats will tip off against the No.3 Philander Smith College Lady Panthers on Sunday, February 26 at 2 p.m. in the championship title game of the 2023 Hope Credit Union GCAC Women’s Basketball Championship.

Fans may watch the entire 2023 Hope Credit Union GCAC Tournament live on the free HBCU League Pass+ app, available in both the Google and iOS app stores. Game-by-game updates will be available on the conference’s social media accounts.

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