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Lady Celts Lose First Games to Top-Ranked Teams

The University of St. Thomas Women’s Basketball team comes off of a tough week, during which it saw action against an NCAA Division I opponent and two of the top 25 NAIA teams in the country. Head Coach Mike Ricks anticipated some struggles during this portion of the schedule, but said he believes the team is showing improvement.

“We want to measure ourselves against the best,” Ricks said. “I’ve always been a big believer that playing against great competition will help you to be able to win games down the road that you might not have been otherwise prepared to win.”

If that is the case, then the Lady Celts’ early schedule should pay big dividends. On Nov. 7, the Celts traveled to Hofheinz Pavilion to take on the University of Houston Cougars in an exhibition game. The Celts jumped out to an early 7-0 lead on the Cougars behind the strong play of Aujanee Armstrong and Sheila Onyekwere. The Cougars battled back to take the lead midway through the first half and never looked back, defeating the Lady Celts 65-41.

“The final score doesn’t tell the story of the game,” Ricks said. “We battled a Division I team and gave them everything they wanted for about 32 minutes. I think they ended up wearing us down physically towards the end of the game, but I feel like we got better tonight. We had great performances from Armstrong with 14 points and Onyekwere with 16 rebounds, and we were able to do some positive things both offensively and defensively.”

Over the weekend the Lady Celts traveled to Oklahoma City to take on the Stars of Oklahoma City University.

“OCU is ranked No. 3 in the country,” Ricks said. “They are without a doubt the toughest team on our schedule.” Unfortunately, the Lady Celts were never really in the game as they fell, 110-46. Aujanee Armstrong was the lone Lady Celt in double figures with 11 points.

UST continued the trip through Oklahoma with a visit to Langston University for the team’s first Red River Athletic Conference match-up. Although the Lady Celts fell to the 19th ranked team in the country by a score of 85-67, they gave the defending Red River champs a run for their money.

“We didn’t play a very good first half, and we found ourselves in a hole early,” Ricks said. “We came out in the second half with a different mindset and we were able to make a game of it.”

The Lady Celts fought hard and trimmed Langston under 10 points with about six minutes remaining in the contest behind great performances by Hershiira “Shorty” Boone-Rodgers and Maddy Ali.

“This was our most balanced game, scoring wise, that we have had,” Ricks said. “Shorty and Maddy both had great games, but we also got big-time contributions from Gaby Guzman and Aujanee Armstrong. Amber Arceneaux-Francis really helped to get us going in the second half with her passing, and Jzavon Redic was fantastic off the bench.”

The Lady Celts return home to play in the inaugural PSN Sports Challenge beginning on Friday, Nov. 18. The opening game of the Challenge will feature the Lady Celts against Dallas Christian College. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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