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Lady Cardinals Come Up Short Against No. 8 Wayne State

Sam Zirzow netted 16 points and eight rebounds in the matchup with #8 Wayne State
Sam Zirzow netted 16 points and eight rebounds in the matchup with #8 Wayne State

UNIVERSITY CENTER – The Saginaw Valley State University women's basketball team hosted the nation's eighth ranked team in the Wayne State University Warriors on Saturday (Jan. 10) night at SVSU's O'Neil Arena.  The Lady Cardinals out-scored the nationally-ranked Warriors in the second half but came up just short, falling at the buzzer by a score of 76-73.

The Warriors opened the contest on an 8-0 run in the game's first four minutes.  SVSU got on the board when senior Samantha Zirzow made good on one-of-two free throws to make the score 8-1 at the 15:54 mark.

Senior Shelby Herrington answered a Wayne State three-pointer by knocking down a baseline jumper for the Cardinals' first field goal to make the score 11-3 with 15 minutes showing on the clock.  Herrington's jump shot started a run of seven straight points for the home team, cutting the Warrior lead down to three points (11-8) at the 12:18 marker.

A Jessica Alexander triple with 9:46 remaining in the opening half gave the Lady Cardinals their first lead of the game at 15-13.  The freshman knocked down a pair of freebies to give SVSU its largest lead of the first half at four points (19-15) with just over seven minutes to play.  Zirzow's layup at the 6:06 mark gave the Cards another four point lead at 21-17.

The teams would be tied three times in the final six minutes at 21, 24, and 26.  Herrington answered a Warrior three-point play with a layup to pull the Cards within one point at 29-28 with 1:14 to play.  Wayne State closed out the scoring for the half with a triple at the 15-second mark to send the teams into the locker room at 32-28.

Herrington led the way in the first 20 minutes for the Cards, as she scored eight points on 4-of-7 shooting and hauled-in five rebounds.  Zirzow chipped-in with six points and five boards.  SV out-rebounded the Warriors by a 23-17 margin but the away team outscored the Cardinals in the paint (20-10) and in points off of turnovers (13-6).

Wayne State opened up a seven-point lead to start the second half, but Alexander's second triple of the game cut the lead down to four at 39-35 with 17:20 remaining.

The Cardinals pulled to within one point (41-40) on a Danielle Carriere three-pointer but WSU scored the next eight points to lead 49-40 with about 13 minutes left in the second half.

SVSU cut the Warrior lead down to six points following a pair of Alexander freebies to make the score 56-50 with 9:41 showing on the clock.

Two Emily Wendling free throws put the Cards back within two possessions at 62-57 with just over five minutes to play in the second half.  The Warriors found themselves up by double-digits (71-61) following a layup with a minute and half to play in the game.  The Cardinals, however, were not done.

Five straight points from Wendling in an 18-second span pulled the Cards back within five points with just over a minute on the clock.  Junior Alex Green knocked down a mid-range jumper to make the score 74-70 with 25 seconds left.  One out of two free throws by WSU kept the door open for the home team and Carriere responded by knocking down her second three of the game with just 15 seconds remaining.

WSU split another pair of free throws to give the Cards another chance at a game-tying three-pointer.  SVSU was unable to get a shot off though and the eighth-ranked Warriors were able to hang on for the 76-73 victory.

Zirzow finished with a team-high 16 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field and was 6-of-8 from the charity stripe.  The senior grabbed a team-high eight rebounds as she was named the Meijer "Player of the Game" for her performance.

Wendling chipped-in with 13 points, including 9-for-9 from the free throw line.  Alexander (13) and Carriere (14) each had double-figures for the Cardinals as well.  Green matched a career-high with six assists.

Saginaw Valley (6-8, 1-7 GLIAC) hits the road for its next contest as the Cardinals travel north to Sault Ste. Marie for a matchup with the Lake Superior State University Lakers (6-6, 2-6 GLIAC) Thursday (Jan. 15) night.  Tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 pm at LSSU's Cooper Gym.  The Cardinals and Lakers split last year's season series, with each team winning on their home court.