COLUMBUS, Ga. — Two down, four to go. The LMU women’s basketball team continues to make history. This time the history is 16 times as Sweet as the No. 13/20 and third-seeded Lady Railsplitters demolished second-seed and 21st-ranked Wingate in the NCAA Southeast Regional Semifinals 85-66 Saturday afternoon to advance to the round of 16 for the first time in program history.
LMU improves to 28-4, tying the school record for wins in a season with the 1988-89 team. They faced fourth-ranked Columbus State Monday at 7 p.m.
The loss ends Wingate’s season at 26-6 and was their worst loss of the season. It was the fourth time the two teams met this season, and they split 2-2.
LMU was led by Shea Coker with 25 points and seven rebounds. Coker went 10-for-18 from the field, 2-for-5 from 3-point range and 3-for-3 from the free-throw line.
Emily Griffith had 16 points and six rebounds. Sydnie Anderson had 11 points while Josey Harding had her 12th double-double of the season with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
“I thought the girls just did a great job sticking to our game plan,” said LMU Head Coach Krystal Evans. “Our whole objective tonight was to take away the paint and make them shoot outside, and I just think that the girls did an excellent job executing it.”
Wingate was led by Danasia Witherspoon’s 20 points. Marta Miscenko and Shelby Tricoli had 10 points each.
LMU took the early 3-2 lead off a trey by Coker. Coker would spark LMU with 10 early points as they went out to the 14-4 lead. Down the stretch, Bulldog turnovers and hot shooting by LMU would give them the 23-9 lead after one quarter.
Wingate made a little run to open the second quarter, mainly from the free-throw line. LMU went on a scoring drought of several minutes, allowing Wingate to chip away at the lead, cutting it to 29-20.
The lead would be cut to seven on a couple of occasions but baskets by Coker, and Emily Griffith would extend the lead each time. The Lady Railsplitters would hold off a late Bulldog run with a trey by Rachel Griffith giving LMU the 41-32 lead at the half.
The Bulldogs came out and cut the lead to five before back to back to back baskets and a free throw from Coker put LMU back out by 12. The teams traded baskets and free throws with LMU maintaining the double digit lead for most of the quarter.
Wingate would get it under 10 points and LMU would have an answer. After a Wingate technical foul, LMU extended the lead to 65-49 and held on for the 66-49 lead after three stanzas.
Wingate used some quick fouls by LMU to try to chip away at the lead but LMU would shut the door on every run. Anderson would get six points midway through the quarter to keep the lead in double digits.
LMU would hit free throws down the stretch and frustrate Wingate with offensive rebounds as they held on for the victory.
“I’m proud of us that we’ve gotten to the Sweet 16, that’s something that we’ve never accomplished before,” said Evans. “I want us to enjoy this moment until midnight, and then once midnight happens we are 0-0 again and fighting for that Elite Eight spot.”