TOUGALOO, Miss. – It was a game of runs, and the top seeds rallied down the stretch to advance to the 2023 Hope Credit Union GCAC Women’s Basketball Championship title game. The Rust College Lady Bearcats edged past the fifth-placed Dillard University Lady Bleu Devils, 58-45.
Both teams were ready to play from the start. A quick three by Dekeriya Patterson for the Lady Bearcats and followed by back-to-back layups by Dillard’s Alexis Gie and Jordyn Rowe started the game for both teams to score. Neither team was able to maintain the momentum until midway through the first quarter, as each team used strong defensive stops to keep the Lady Bearcats 8-7 ahead. The quarter would come to an end, with offense close for both teams until a deep tip of the bow from Faith Cattouse extended Rust’s lead to six, 15-9.
The second frame would be more of the same as the Lady Bearcats rose by eight while the Lady Bleu Devils attempted to up the defensive intensity. As the quarter neared center, Rust would use a 9-3 run to move 12 points, 24-12, ahead. The Lady Bleu Devils responded with back-to-back jumps from Gie and Taylor Dewitt to take the lead, but Rust followed up with back-to-back fast-break layups to bring the point difference back into double digits. The first half ended with the Lady Bearcats extending their lead to 11 and going into the locker room at 29-18.
In the third verse, the Lady Bearcats used back-to-back baskets from Niya McGuire to move 15 ahead. The Lady Bleu Devils tried to string together a run to get inches closer, but Rust dug into his collective heels. By the end of the quarter, the lead had shrunk to nine after Dewitt free throws.
The Lady Bearcats extended their lead back to double digits early in the fourth quarter thanks to jumpers from Patterson and Lyric Turner. The Lady Bleu Devils slowly fought their way back into the game but had to burn through a timeout after an offensive explosion from Rust at the 6:31 mark, topped off with another Patterson-Trey to take the lead to 16, 50-34 . An offensive excitement brought the Lady Bearcats lead back to eight. It was too late for Dillard, however, as successful trips to the free-throw line by Katie Blackmon and Madison Riley finally ended the game and potted Rust’s ticket to the championship with a final score of 58-45.
The no. 1 Rust College Lady Bearcats will meet No. 3 Philander Smith College Lady Panthers.
Fans can watch the entire 2023 Hope Credit Union GCAC tournament live on the free HBCU League Pass+ app, available on both the Google and iOS app stores. Game-by-game updates will be available on the conference’s social media accounts.