PENSACOLA, Fla. – The West Florida women’s basketball team was unable to hand visiting Henderson State their first loss of the season, as the Argonauts fell 76-70 on the first day of the UWF Thanksgiving Classic on Friday. Senior Octavia Bearden (Tylertown, Miss./Southwest Mississippi CC) scored a double-double for the Argonauts in the loss, finishing with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Bearden’s double-double was her second of the season, and she also grabbed four steals on defense. Guards Ashley Rush (Pensacola, Fla./Gulf Coast CC) and Sher'Ryan Scott (Fort Deposit, Ala./Wallace State CC-Selma) also scored in double digits for West Florida (1-5), as Rush finished with 14 and Scott 11.
Henderson State (4-0) started hot on offense, outscoring the Argonauts 22-9 through the game’s first nine minutes. After a short run by the Argos, HSU bounced back and opened up a 16-point lead with 3:38 left in the half. Down 34-18, the Argos finished the period on a hot streak of their own, going on a 13-0 run to finish the half. Sophomore Jaymie Druding (Orchard Park, N.Y./Maine) scored a layup off an assist by Keaundrea Merriewether (Jacksonville, Fla./University Christian HS) with three seconds left, narrowing the Lady Reddies’ lead to just three points at 34-31 going into halftime.
The second half featured back-and-forth action with three tied scores and eight lead changes. Merriewether scored a layup and narrowed HSU’s lead to one to make the score 60-59 at the 6:05 mark, but that was the closest the Argos would get over the last six minutes. After a three by Sheay Longstaff on HSU’s next possession, the Lady Reddies kept UWF at least two baskets away the rest of the game, eventually claiming the six-point victory.
The Lady Reddies boasted a balanced offensive effort, as Cheree Freeman led all players with 18 points, Crystal Thompson chipped in with 17 and Longstaff added 16. Destiny Smith was dominant down low, grabbing 15 rebounds to lead all players.
HSU shot 45.5 percent from the field (25-55), while the Argos finished at 36.4 percent (24-66). The Argos held a 47-44 rebound advantage, and they turned the ball over three less times (16) than HSU (19).
The Argos will face Emporia State on Saturday, Nov. 26 on the final day of the UWF Thanksgiving Classic. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m., and fan can follow all the action live at www.GoArgos.com.