Late rally falls short for ECU women

Feb. 10—MAGNOLIA, Ark. — A fourth-quarter comeback fell just short for the East Central University women's basketball team as the Tigers lost a tight one, 59-53, on the road to Southern Arkansas University on Thursday night.

"We got off to a bad start in the first quarter," said ECU women's head coach Heather Hurt. "The press shocked us, and it took us too long to settle in. In the second half, we really battled back and had our chances. Turnovers and poor shooting ended up being the difference in the game."

The Muleriders (10-11, 5-10 GAC) got off to a hot start, establishing an 18-7 advantage within the game's first seven minutes. However, the Tigers (6-13, 2-13 GAC) responded with a 5-0 run, reducing the deficit to 18-12 by the end of the first quarter.

In the second quarter, ECU found their rhythm, shooting their best percentage while preventing Southern Arkansas from widening the gap. With both teams registering 15 points in the quarter, the Muleriders maintained a 33-27 lead at halftime.

Throughout the second half, the Tigers remained competitive, with the overall scoring over the final 20 minutes being tied, 26-26. ECU fought back in the fourth quarter, erasing an 11-point deficit to just two points with 1:28 remaining. However, an untimely turnover by the Tigers with under a minute in regulation, combined with Southern Arkansas making four free throws down the stretch secured the victory for the Muleriders.

Mackenzie Crusoe and Chloe Malone both recorded 11 points, with Crusoe adding a team-high five rebounds while Malone grabbed four boards.

Diamond Morris led the way for Southern Arkansas with 13 points. She finished 7-of-8 from the free-throw line and also had four steals and six rebounds.

East Central finished with 20 turnovers.

The ECU women's basketball team will face off against Arkansas-Monticello at 1 p.m. today inside the Steelman Fieldhouse.

Note: Ada News sports editor Jeff Cali contributed to this report.