Cotton Blossoms start 1-1, sign Owens

William Collins
Staff Writer

   The University of Arkansas-Monticello Cotton Blossoms evened their record at 1-1 after beating the University of Montevallo Lady Falcons 68-65 in the finale of the Coca-Cola/Guesthouse Inn Classic in Montevallo, Ala..

   Freshman guard Teokea Wilkerson came out of her shell and paced the Cotton Blossoms by playing 33 minutes, pouring in 8 points and providing the Blossoms with pressure defense by causing three stolen balls. Wilkerson had some much welcomed help from star forward Wendy Young, who put in 19 points and grabbed 14 boards to file her second consecutive double-double of the season, while Abra Motley chipped in 11 points for the Blossoms. 

   The Blossoms trailed 40-31 at the half, but the Blossoms opened the second half with a 16-5 run and took the lead for good on a lay-up by Jenna Thomas with 12:56 remaining. As the game continued, Wilkerson hit one of her two three-pointers with 3:23 left in the game to give the Blossoms an 8-point lead  (64-56), but Montevallo went on a 7-0 run, capped by a pair of free throws by Melissa Harris to cut the Blossom lead to one with 1:48 remaining.  

   Montevallo was unable to take the lead, and the Blossoms extended their lead back to five on a jumper by TeAundra Harden. Shea Panter converted a pair of free throws with 37 seconds left to bring the Lady Falcons into one-possession range, but Courtney Shields' potential game-tying three-pointer missed with two seconds left and the Blossoms held on for their first victory of the season. 

   “We are very excited about our first win of the season,” head coach Bob Boldon said. Hopefully it will propel us to many more this season.”

   The Blossoms were able to overcome a 32.4 percent shooting effort in the first half with a 50 percent clip in the second half, and were aided by Montevallo's 22.7 percent shooting (5-of-22) in the second half. 

   The Blossoms return to action Thanksgiving Day against Incarnate Word with a 4 p.m. tip-off at the Turkey Day Shootout in Kingsville, Texas, hosted by Texas A&M University-Kingsville. The Blossoms will also meet St. Mary's (Texas) Nov. 26 at 6 p.m.

Fall short against Lady Braves

   Despite a 17-point effort by Theresa Tran, the Cotton Blossoms could not overcome a halftime deficit in the opener of the Coca-Cola/Guesthouse Inn Classic, falling 75-58 to West Georgia, the pre-season No. 2 team in the Gulf South Conference.

   The Lady Braves started the game on a 19-4 run over the first seven minutes, before Blossom Katrina Dean hit a lay-up to cut the lead to 13 just before Lady Brave Milan Cary hit a jumper with 10 minutes remaining in the half.  The Lady Braves would go into the half-time break with a 37 – 23 lead.

   The Blossoms came out of the locker room with a different attitude and scored the first 10 points of the half to cut the lead to four. Knowing the Blossoms still had life left in them, it showed clearly when Young made a jumper just outside the lane to put the Blossoms only one point behind the Lady Braves with 9:58 left in the game. But that was as close as they would get.  The Lady Braves began to pull away again at the 9:48 mark, as Natasha Liggins iced a pair of free throws to extend the West Georgia lead to three. The Braves continued on a 19-3 run over the next eight minutes to extend their lead to 65-48, and the Blossoms were never able to fully recover.

    Young, who had the game's only double-double with 10 points and 11 boards, fouled out of the game at the 4:29 mark, and the Lady Braves then rattled off nine straight points to take a 17-point lead that they would hold until the final buzzer. 

    “Our kids played very hard the second half, but couldn’t overcome the first half sluggish start,” Boldon said.

   Tran's 17-points led the Blossoms, while Young posted a double-double, scoring 10 points and snagging 11 boards.

   For the Lady Braves, Tai Ellis led all scorers with 25 points, while Milan Cary and Liggins were also in double figures with 12 and 10 points, respectively.

  The Blossoms shot 35.4 percent from the field, (23-of-65), and 16.7 percent from long-range (5-of-30).

Owens signs letter-of-intent

   The UAM women’s basketball program signed Tasha Owens to a national letter of intent.

   Owens averaged 20.5 points as a sophomore and 20.9 points as a junior en route to All-State honors at Rural Special High School in both her sophomore and junior years. Additionally, Owens earned All-Region, NAC All-Tournament Team, Baxter County Bulletin All-Area Team, and Arkansas Prep Hoops Future Stars laurels as a sophomore; as well as Regional MVP, Arkansas Prep Hoops Player of the Week (Week 1 and 12), and Arkansas Prep Hoops All-Arkansas Team Honors as a junior.

   “We’re very excited to welcome Tasha to the UAM family,” Boldon said. “Her ability to handle the ball as well as her ability to shoot the ball will add depth to both guard positions.”

Editor's note: Media Relations contributed to this article.

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