For the first time in UT Dallas program history, the Comets' women's basektball team will play in an American Southwest Conference championship game after knocking off host Howard Payne, 70-64, in a semifinal matchup Saturday afternoon.
The Comets (19-8) will face nationally-ranked Louisiana College (24-3) in the ASC title game Sunday afternoon at 2 pm in the Heart of Texas Coliseum. LC was taken to overtime by UT-Tyler in the other semifinal, but prevailed, 82-79, to advance. Live coverage of the title game via video and Live Stats will be available.
UTD, which entered the tournament as the ASC East Division's No. 2 seed, rallied back from a 29-23 halftime deficit and broke free from a 50-50 tie in the final 6:00 of the game to eliminate the ASC West No. 1 seed Lady Jackets (22-6) and earn the rematch with the Lady Wildcats. The semifinals featured the top three teams from the East and only HPU from the West Division.
UTD split its season serires with LC, falling 69-53 in Pineville, then becoming one of only two ASC teams to upset the Lady Wildcats with a 74-72 overtime win on their home court earlier this month. That win was part of the six-game win streak that the Comets are now on after suffering through a mid-season six-game slump.
For the second straight game in the tournament, led the way for UTD with 23 points against the Lady Jackets. Kellie Louikanis sparked the Comets' comeback by hitting five three-pointers - including three in the second half - to finish with 15. and each had nine rebounds for UTD, which finished with a 46-41 rebounding edge over HPU.
UTD hit just 39.7 percent from the field (23-for-58), but held Howard Payne to just 27.0 percent (17-of-63). The Comets survived seven three-point baskets from the Lady Jackets and 19 turnovers by forcing 17 HPU turnovers and recording 15 steals.
The first half of the semifinal game was a close affaith with three early ties and four lead changes. The Comets took first advantage of a slow start by the Lady Jackets, jumping ahead 17-10 with 9:08 to go in the first half after a Loukanis three. But HPU answered with a 11-0 run while UTD didn't connect from the field for almost eight minutes and had built a 29-20 lead by the 1:55 mark of the half. Korioth finally got a layup at 1:40 to start a late rally for UTD. A Grimes free throw and another Korioth layup at the buzzer got the Comets back to within 29-25 at the break.
Loukanis then opened the second half by nailing her third three-pointer of the game :07 in, and Kilgore followed with a pair of free throws to give the Comets the lead (30-29) at 19:18. Kilgore then followed with three straight jumpers before another Loukanis three put UTD up, 39-34, two minutes later. The Comets kept the pressure on, but couldn't stretch out the lead as the home team started to rally inside the final 10 minutes.
With the score tied 47-47 with 6:50 left, McKinley Meyer regained the lead (50-47) for HPU with a three-pointer, but Louikanis answered immediately with another three to re-tie the game at 50-50 with 6:34 left. The Lady Jackets again moved ahead, 52-50, with a layup :30 later, but Kilgore, and Grimes reeled off six straight points to go up 57-52 at the 3:52 mark.
HPU had one last chance, cutting the score to three (57-54) at 2:05, but did not score again. A Kilgore layup after the first HPU missed shot and a Brown free throw in the final seconds finished off the LadyJackets bid.
Information provided by UT Dallas athletics department.