Lady Buffs dethrone LCU, punch ticket to NCAA Division II Elite Eight

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The West Texas A&M Lady Buffs celebrate after beating Lubbock Christian 59-54 to win the NCAA Division II South Central Regional Championship on Monday night at the First United Bank Center. [Trevor Fleeman/ Press Pass Sports]

For the first time since the 2018 season they’ll be a new NCAA Division II women’s national champion.

West Texas A&M earned a hard fought 59-54 win to dethrone two-time defending champion, Lubbock Christian University during Monday’s South Central Regional championship in front of 2,200 fans at the First United Bank Center.

WT has punched its ticket to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight Tournament for the first time since 2017, and will make their eighth appearance overall in program history.

“First off, hats off to LCU,” WT head coach Joshua Prock said. “They are a tremendous program, and what they’ve built is incredible. I’m just so proud of this team. Words can’t describe it.”

It’s hard to fathom how far the Lady Buffs (25-10) have come under Prock in his first season. With the loss of star player Lexy Hightower to Texas Tech, not to mention a very unrecognizable roster, the Lady Buffs struggled to a 7-6 start in December. However, WT came on strong during Lone Star Conference play, winning the regular season title with a record of 14-3, then carrying that momentum to claim their 17th LSC Tournament championship, and into the South Central Regional.

“After we played Drury at the first of the year I could tell we could be pretty good,” Prock said. “We knew there was talent on this team it just had to come together. What a run its been.”

For Lubbock Christian, its the end of of one of the greatest era’s in sports at any level. Since moving up to Division II in 2016, the Lady Chaps have won three national championships — 2016, 2019, 2021. Monday’s loss to WT was the first regional loss in program history falling to 14-1 in regional games, and the first time LCU won’t play in the Elite Eight as a Division II program.

“I can’t even put into words what these seniors have accomplished,” LCU head coach Steve Gomez said. Congrats to WT they made some key plays down the stretch. But our team has created a fairy tail situation. These seniors have won two national titles, and never lost a home game. That’s not normal in sports. For them to now have hurt is awesome because they love team. They aren’t sad about a game, they love playing for each other.”

As expected the contest came down to the wire. The Lady Buffs held an eight point lead in the first half, but neither team pushed the advantage to double-digits. Down the stretch, WT opened a 51-46 lead after a Karley Motschenbacher layup, and a free-throw with 3:02 to play in the fourth. LCU’s Allie Schulte quickly responded knocking down a 3-pointer cutting the lead, 51-49. In the final minute, WT came up clutch. Leading 53-52, Motschenbacher missed a shot, only to see teammate Jayla Burgess get the rebound and put back to put the Lady Buffs up 55-52 with 3 seconds to go. The Lady Chaps had to chase from that moment forward but couldn’t make up the ground.

Motschenbacher was named South Central Regional Most Outstanding Player scoring 16 points with eight rebounds.

“There was no way we were letting anyone else cut down our nets,” Motschenbacher said. “That mindset carried us through the second half, and we were hungry to win.”

WT beat LCU (28-7) in three of the four matchups this season.

The NCAA Women’s Division II Elite Eight is set for March 21-25 in Birmingham, Ala.

For a complete look at the game stats, please visit https://gobuffsgo.com/sports/womens-basketball/stats/2021-22/-3-lubbock-christian/boxscore/8329

Lubbock Christian star and Nazareth graduate Allie Schulte played in her 155th and final game Monday night. [Trevor Fleeman/ Press Pass Sports]

Thank you Allie Schulte

The Texas Panhandle saw one of the most prolific women’s basketball careers come to an end in Canyon on Monday. Nazareth graduate and LCU star point guard, Allie Schulte, played in her final game as a Lady Chap.

Coming back for COVID senior season, Schulte played in 155 career games. That is the most games played in LCU women’s basketball history, and ranks fourth in all of Division II among active players. The highly decorated Schulte leaves as a two-time national champion, an All-American and was the Most Outstanding Player of last seasons Elite Eight Tournament. Schulte was a part of an LCU team that never lost a home game going an incredible 70-0 at the Rip Griffin Center. Schulte is the first Lady Chap to reach the 1,500-point mark since 2018, and her 320 career steals rank second in school history.

“It’s been a dream,” Schutle said. “I knew how special this school was when I got here, and it still blew my expectations away. I’m truly blessed that I got five years to play here, especially with these incredible teammates. I’ve loved every team more and more. I’m very honored to wear this jersey.”

Thank you for the memories, Allie. It was truly special to follow your historic career.

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