LUMBERTON — There was no upset Wednesday night.
The Richmond girls basketball team, which knocked off Jack Britt in the first round, didn’t have enough left in the tank and fell to Lumberton 75-36 in the semifinal round of the Sandhills Athletic Conference Tournament.
The No. 6 Lady Raiders’ energetic start to the game forced the home team to call a timeout after a layup from senior forward Lexyonna Ingram. Once the No. 2 Lady Pirates turned up the pressure on defense, however, the momentum shifted.
“Our girls came out really ready to go, playing agressive defense and really attacking the boards on offense. When we slacked off from doing that, Lumberton took advantage of us kind of falling back on our heels,” head coach Rosalind McDonald said.
Richmond (6-15) had comfortably gotten the ball past halfcourt in the opening minutes, but struggled to do so once they began facing some full-court pressure. A few errant passes later and the team’s slim lead gradually turned into a nine-point first-quarter deficit — before Keionna Love’s triple at the buzzer brought it within six.
Baskets were hard to come by for the Lady Raiders in second period, as they went almost four minutes without a player putting points on the scoreboard. Ingram’s layup at the 4:11 mark was their first bucket since Love’s three-pointer capped the first period.
Sophomore guard Allexis Swiney went coast-to-coast for her first bucket of the game and got Richmond back within single digits, but scores from Madison Canady, Akhewrus Stubs and London Thompson helped Lumberton take a 32-30 lead heading into halftime.
“Slow it down when we need to and attack when we have the opportunities,” McDonald said of her message to the team. “And to play more aggressive, because they were being allowed to play aggressive. I wanted them to match that.”
Lumberton (22-4) got a three-pointer from Rachel O’Neil — who hit three triples in the first quarter — to start the second half and didn’t look back. Their 12-point lead at the break blossomed into a 25-point lead by the end of the third quarter.
The Lady Pirates would add 20 more points in the final stanza opposed to the Richmond’s six. They had four players finish in double figures in the victory: Canady (20), O’Neil (15), Alexandria Simpson (15), London Thompson (13).
Only Love reached double digits for the Lady Raiders, as she knocked down two shots from beyond the arc in the first half and then added two layups and a free throw to finish with 11 points. Swiney added seven and Ingram chipped in six.
The loss ended Richmond’s season, which was McDonald’s third year at the helm. She believes the experience her young team gained this season will only help moving forward.
“I think we’re going to come out ready next year. I don’t think any team in the conference can outshoot us, so I think our confidence will be higher as they get a little older and mature more,” she said. “The program has a lot of potential.”
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. by phone at 910-817-2673 or by email at [email protected] For stories, scores and updates, follow the Daily Journal’s sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.