by Ian Applegate

PRATT, Kan. – The No. 11 Seward County women’s basketball extended their win streak against Pratt to 52 games, overcoming a 15-point deficit to beat the Beavers 71-68.  Seward is now 15-2 overall and 7-1 in the Jayhawk Conference.

The normally stout Seward defense was gashed by the Beavers to a tune of 22 first quarter points. The lackluster defense gave Pratt a six-point lead at the end of the first as the Lady Saints were only able to come away with 16 points.

The Beavers kept their hot hand to begin the second quarter, increasing their lead to 13 points just a few minutes into the quarter.  The Lady Saints fought back, but there was no answer for Pratt as they continued to pour it on, extending their lead to nine points by halftime.  The Beavers could do no wrong in the first half, shooting 50 percent from the floor and 63 percent from behind the arc, while the Lady Saints were connecting on 39 percent of their shots and just 21 percent from deep.

The 27-year win streak appeared to be in jeopardy late in the third quarter as the Beavers took a 15-point lead with four minutes left in the quarter. However, a late run to end the quarter put Seward within striking distance, trailing 57-48 at the end of the third quarter.

The fourth quarter featured the tough-nosed defense that fans have been used to seeing, as Seward allowed just 11 points in the final quarter of play as they attempted their largest comeback of the season. Silvia Veloso continued to be the clutch performer the Lady Saints need, hitting another key three in the game to put Seward up late in the game. On the following possession Lexi Hernandez gave Seward some extra breathing room with a three of her own.

However, the Beavers weren’t to be outdone, trimming the lead to one point with under a minute to go. Following a timeout, Karolina Szydlowska tipped a pass intending to go inside the lane, allowing Veloso to recover it before she was fouled and sent to the free throw line.  She made both to secure the win and give Seward the 71-68 lead.

The Lady Saints shot 40.9 percent (18-for-44) from the floor and 23.5 percent (4-for-17) from deep.  Pratt shot 47.1 percent (24-for-51) from the floor and 50 percent (6-for-12) from behind the arc.  The Beavers out-rebounded Seward 35-22.

Three Lady Saints scored in double-figures, led by Carla Covane’s 15 points.  She came three rebounds shy of her fifth straight double-double.  Silvia Veloso (13 pts) and Lexi Hernandez (13 pts) each reached double-figures.

After nearly five weeks away from home, the Lady Saints will return to the Greenhouse on Saturday (Jan. 19) for a 6:00 tip against Dodge City.  The game will be Seward’s “Oldies” night. Free tickets are available thanks to Community Bank and can be picked up at Community Bank or Liberal Hutch’s locations.