Lady Lancers advance to next round

TORRINGTON – The Eastern Wyoming College Lady Lancers squeaked out a 63-62 win over Otero Junior College on Friday in the first round of the Region IX Tournament to advance to the quarterfinals in Casper this week.

“We knew going in it was going to be a really tough game,” coach Tom Andersen said. “Otero is a great defensive team and they really scrap and get after you.”

EWC found itself down 9-7 with 2:43 to go in the first quarter, but the two teams combined for three three-pointers to close out the frame, with EWC holding a 13-12 lead. The Lady Rattlers took control in the second quarter, with eight-straight points putting EWC behind 25-20 with 3:51 to go before the break. At halftime, the Lady Lancers trailed 31-26.

“We didn’t play great offensively in the first half, especially,” Andersen said. “We came out in the second half and played better.”

EWC turned things around to open the third quarter, tying the game at 35 with six minutes to go in the frame. Just over a minute later and the Lady Lancers were up 39-35, but Otero made a run at the end of the quarter, knotting the score at 46 with 10 minutes to go.

With 1:33 to go in the fourth, Abril Rexach Roure hit a layup to put EWC up 61-58, but a layup by Otero with 19.1 seconds left cut the lead to 61-60. After an EWC free throw, Otero missed two free throws and Pamela Bethel snagged the defensive rebound and called a timeout with EWC leading 62-60 with 5.5 ticks left. Rexach hit 1-of-2 free throws on her trip to the line, giving EWC a 63-60 lead, but a foul was called on EWC with 0.6 seconds left, sending the Lady Rattlers to the line. The visitors knocked down both free throws to trim the score to 63-62, but 0.6 seconds was not enough for them to get any more points, giving EWC the win.

Bethel had another stat line to remember, notching 20 points and 15 rebounds, both of which were team-highs. Six of her rebounds came on the offensive glass. Bethel went to the free-throw line for 13 attempts, knocking down eight of them.

“She is pretty driven and that kid is a tremendous rebounder. She really just goes after the ball,” Andersen said of Bethel. “She is versatile and athletic. She has had a whale of the year.”

Rexach turned in 13 points on the night, including six from behind the arc, along with five boards and team-high’s with five assists and three steals. Nicole Cutler came off the bench and rounded out the Lady Lancers in double-figures, notching 11 points, two assists and a block on the night.

Joining Bethel and Rexach in the starting lineup, Ines Salat Margarit and Lauren O’Connell combined for six points and 10 rebounds. They both had three assists and a steal. Macie Mackey was the final starter, finishing the game with four boards, two assists and a block.

Emily Buchanan came off the bench and packed her stat line with seven points, six rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block. Cathlyn Knutson and Ijeoma Ezikeolisa also came off the bench, combining for six points, four rebounds and an assist.

The win puts the Lady Lancers at 21-10 on the year. They have won eight-straight games heading to Casper for the rest of the Region IX Tournament. EWC’s next game of the bracket comes against Miles Community College on Thursday at 5 p.m. at Casper College.

“We just want to play the way we play,” Andersen said. “We don’t worry too much about other teams. We just worry about what we do. We will get after them and give them everything we’ve got.”

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