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Aggie and Lady Aggie Sports
Scott Puryear, Sports Information Director
Oklahoma Panhandle State University
P.O. Box 430, Goodwell, OK 73939
580-349-1340 scottp@opsu.edu

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OPSU guards Sarah Furgeson (left) and Taneisha Rogers each scored 14 points in the Heartland Conference championship game on Saturday night. The Lady Aggies lost to St. Mary’s 69-64.  – Larry Wiggins photos

**For Immediate Release**
Lady Aggies Fall in Title Game, 69-64
by Aggie Sports on 03/04/06

Goodwell, Okla. - The Lady Aggies of Oklahoma Panhandle State and the Lady Rattlers of St. Mary’s University waged war in the Heartland Conference women’s basketball title game on Saturday night. The contest was played on St. Mary’s home court in San Antonio, Texas and the opening tip was at 7:30 p.m.

Not quite two hours later, St. Mary’s owned a hard earned 69-64 victory and the league tournament championship.

The Lady Aggies started off with some very strong defense and on the first St. Mary’s possession, freshman guard Sarah Furgeson came up with a steal and took the ball back down court for an unassisted two points to give OPSU a 2-0 lead.

Both teams wanted victory and in the first few minutes, the lead changed hands several times, with St. Mary’s ahead 14-13 with 11 minutes left in the first half.

It was a game of changing momentum for a good part of the first period. St. Mary’s had it for a short time, but OPSU’s Michelle Kennedy cut the Lady Rattler lead to 19-16 with a three point play with nine minutes left. Two minutes later, the score was tied at 21 points each.

The OPSU defense was tenacious and they challenged every move St. Mary’s made, with both teams working relentlessly for the advantage. A three point rocket by OPSU’s Brandi Lewis put the Lady Aggies ahead 29-25 with 1:45 to play, but St. Mary’s fought back to take a 31-29 lead at the halftime break. It was exactly the way conference championship games should be played.

Both teams came out for the second half well aware each had their season on the line . . . the losing team finished for the year. The winner would advance to the NCAA Division II national tournament.

The second half began with St. Mary’s superior height versus OPSU’s superior speed. The Lady Rattlers went with three inside players standing six feet tall or more while the Lady Aggies defended with a stubborn press. The action was fast, furious, and physical and with 12 minutes to play OPSU trailed 49-43.

With eight minutes remaining, St. Mary’s held a 54-48 advantage, but there was not one bit of quit in the Lady Aggies.

Just above the five minute mark, St. Mary’s was up 59-52 and the action stayed fast paced and physical, with the Lady Aggies pushing hard with a full court press. St. Mary’s tried to pull away but could not shake a game OPSU squad and held a 67-59 lead with two minutes to play.

Fighting all the way to the final buzzer, OPSU ended their fine season with the emotional 69-64 loss. As they left the court, the Lady Aggies did not need to hang their heads. They played with determination and heart from start to finish.

Taneisha Rogers, a junior guard, and Furgeson led the OPSU scoring with 14 points each. Rogers had six rebounds and Furgeson handed out five assists. In her final game as a Lady Aggie, senior forward Bridgett Boykin scored a dozen and had a game high three steals. Laura Wilson scored eight points and Lewis added seven.

The Lady Aggies’ Nina Kuleff delivered a courageous performance. As the only six- footer in the Lady Aggie lineup, the junior center stood her ground all night. In the second half of the very physical game, Kuleff crashed to the floor but was back in the game a short time later with the same dedication she has shown all season. For the game, the junior scored four points and handed out four assists.

As always, win or lose, OPSU coach Jerry Olson graciously spoke to the media after the hotly contested game. He said, “St. Mary’s made the plays when they had to and they played excellent defense. Our overall effort was there but we just did not execute well enough.”

OPSU finished the season with a 15-14 record, while St. Mary’s went to 18-11.

Olson was very proud of his team and did not have to say “Wait until next year.” OPSU basketball fans have enjoyed this season and are confident the Lady Aggies will make another run at the Heartland Conference title in the 2007. For now, they can sit back and reflect on the many thrills from the great team effort this season.

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