Senior Ashley Cazee scored 13 points in her final home game against Tennessee State. She also dished out three assists and had two steals. (Jonathan Kleppinger)

By Jerry Sudduth

The 2007-2008 women’s basketball season came to a close in Birmingham, Ala. in the first round of the OVC Tournament Tuesday night as Eastern fell to Samford, 69-56.Despite losing by 13 points, the Lady Colonels gave Samford a close game throughout most of the contest. A crucial three-minute drought at the end of the game doomed Eastern, however, as the Lady Colonels managed only three points in that stretch.

The first half of the contest was close as neither team lead by more than four points at any given time. The Lady Colonels went into the locker room trailing 31-29.

The lead changed hands six times in the first half. Samford led in spite of themselves, shooting 37 percent in the half to Eastern’s 50.

The Lady Bulldogs raced out to a 10-point lead in the second half, but an 8-2 Eastern run put Samford up by only three at 56-53 with only 4:33 to play.

That burst was about all the Lady Colonels had left in them as they scored only three more points in the game and the Lady Bulldogs quickly pulled away to win by 13.

Senior Crystal Jones made the most of her final game at Eastern, scoring 17 points. LaTanyah Stokes added nine and senior Ashley Cazee scored five.

Taryn Towns scored 16 to lead the Lady Bulldogs. Savannah Hill had 13 and Alex Munday had 10.

Eastern turned over the ball 20 times in the contest, with Samford scoring 27 points from those turnovers.

Samford will go on to face Murray State in Nashville in the tournament semifinals on Friday.

Austin Peay

The Lady Colonels defeated Austin Peay (6-22, 3-16 OVC) but lost to Tennessee State (13-16, 10-10 OVC) at home to clinch the seventh seed in the OVC Women’s basketball tournament.

A 10-0 run at the end of the game against Austin Peay secured an Eastern victory in the first game, 62-55.

A 3-pointer by the Lady Governors’ Salem Richardson put Austin Peay up 55-52 with a little over five minutes in the game, but four turnovers and four missed baskets helped to end Austin Peay’s night.

The Lady Governors came into the second half shooting hot, scoring ten unanswered points to go up 36-27, temporarily blowing open a tight game.

Crystal Jones countered that run with one of her own, scoring five points in a 7-0 Colonel run to get within two at 47-45. Eastern stayed within four until the last five minutes of the game when they launched their own run.

The win in this contest earned the Lady Colonels a place in the OVC women’s tournament.

Jones led all scorers with 26 points, while the other Jones, Shavonne, was the only other Eastern player to score in double digits with 10 points. Senior Ashley Cazee had nine in a game that had four ties and six lead changes.

Tennessee State

The Lady Colonels finished the regular season by losing to Tennessee State, 68-66. Senior Ashley Cazee took the final shot to send the contest into overtime and possibly get a win on senior night, but her final effort fell short of the mark.

TSU’s win ensured a fifth-place seed in the OVC Tournament for the Lady Tigers, while the loss puts Eastern at seventh.

The first half of the game featured several runs and surges of momentum by both teams. The Lady Tigers benefited from the last of those, going into the half leading 39-32.

An 11-1 run early in the second half put the Lady Colonels up by one point at 48-47 with less than 13 minutes left in the contest. Eastern went up by as much as five, but TSU came back, taking a one-point lead.

The Lady Colonels retook the lead and lost it again in the course of the next three minutes.

Eastern took the lead another time, leading by four with less than two minutes left in the contest. But the Lady Colonels couldn’t hold on as the Lady Tigers went on a tear with a 6-0 run.

Eastern’s LaTanya Stokes scored 16 points and had 10 rebounds – her first double-double as a Lady Colonel. Seniors Ashley Cazee and Crystal Jones scored 13 and 11 points respectively.

TSU’s Oby Okafor scored 19 points while Tiffany Jackson had 18 points – her final eight made the difference as no other Lady Tiger scored during TSU’s final run. Kendra Appling had 16 in a game that featured 13 lead changes and nine ties.