The Lady Tornadoes failed to earn an automatic bid with their loss to Xavier in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Tournament championship Saturday. Since then, there has been a cloud of uncertainty hovering over the remainder of the season.
“We’re on the bubble,” said head coach Romeo Lagmay. “We’re in a similar situation as a lot of other schools in the nation are. It’s a matter of what conference you’re in, what ranked teams you beat and how well you did in the conference. We’re in a hopeful state right now. We’re praying about it.”
Only 32 teams will make the tournament, and Talladega is currently in a six-way tie for 32nd in the rankings with San Diego Christian, St. Catharine, Cumberland, Lindsey Wilson and Montana State Northern.
Of the six schools, TC’s 22-8 overall record is tops. However, all the other teams have at least two wins over ranked teams. TC’s only win over a ranked team came against No. 20 Xavier.
TC also plays in an eight-school conference, which is smaller than the 12 or 16-school conferences the other teams play in.
A 64-63 win over West Alabama Nov. 15 has proved to be TC’s biggest win of the season, as the Lady Tigers are now bound for the NCAA Tournament after winning the Gulf South Conference. Other positives on TC’s resume include a 66-63 early-season win over Cumberland and the 68-62 win over Xavier.
The Lady Tornadoes also took South Alabama down to the wire in a 57-52 loss. With 17 wins, the Lady Jaguars may be bound for the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) this season.
“Just like every other school I believe we should be in there,” Lagmay. “Our girls play so hard, we have a great winning record and we want something to show for it. I’m confident that if we get in, we’re going to make a little run.”
What is hurting TC’s chances are a 60-47 loss at Tougaloo near the end of the regular season and the conference championship loss to Xavier.
Ebony Richardson and Megan Iloff, TC’s scoring leaders with more than 14 points per game, combined for just 12 points in the loss. Stephanie DeFrance, who may start at point guard next season, scored 14 points off the bench while Bianca Thomas had a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds.
“That game could have gone either way,” Lagmay said. “It was the way a basketball game should be played. It was evenly fought.”
Talladega College dressed just eight players in the game, as Chrystal Taloma was suspended for the entire tournament for violation of team rules. Lynice Schallberger was also suspended for the first round win over Philander Smith.
“Those things are distractions,” Lagmay said. “You have to be focused. You can’t be out of sync when you’re trying to win.”
The NAIA will announce its tournament teams online at 3 p.m. today, but TC has not practiced since Saturday’s loss in Jacksonville, Fla.
Lagmay said he is focused on planning for the summer and recruiting.
“I’m hoping we get in the tournament, but I’m helping the girls with training and hoping they finish strong academically,” he said.
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