Midwestern State displayed its guile by overcoming a 16-point deficit to surge to a second-half lead Thursday afternoon in the Lone Star Conference postseason tournament quarterfinals at the Allen Event Center.
But in the end, the Mustangs just couldn't hold off Incarnate Word falling to the Cardinals 75-71.
"I felt like the seeding didn't matter in this one," MSU coach Noel Johnson said. "UIW is a very talented ball club and I knew we were in for a fight."
Incarnate Word (15-12) moves on to face the winner of the West Texas A&M/Texas Woman's game Friday at noon.
The Cardinals blistered the nets at a 64.3-percent clip and led by as many as 16 points when Jocelyn Jarmon buried a 3-pointer to give UIW a 46-30 edge 1:30 before intermission.
Incarnate Word's 47-point first-half outburst represented the most points allowed in the opening stanza this season.
"We always say we like to keep the game interesting," MSU senior guard Savannah Carver said. "It was nerves and we didn't come out playing very well. We just dug too deep of a hole."
Carver set a personal milestone in becoming the 17th player to score 1,000 career points for Midwestern finishing a solid career with a great all-around performance of 17 points, six rebounds and four assists.
The Mustangs chipped away with a brief 6-1 run in the final minute of the first half and carried the momentum after halftime.
The extended run went to 22-5 on Kirsti Degelia's layup with 11:31 to play to give the Mustangs their first lead since going up 2-0 at 52-51.
"I'm proud of my team for fighting back," Johnson said. "We showed the character of this very special group."
MSU led by as many as four points as the teams exchanged four lead chances and four ties over the final 8:34 of the contest as the Mustangs took a 71-69 lead on Karissa Lang's trey from the top of the key with 3:16 to go.
But Incarnate Word scored the final six points of the game to claim the victory.
The loss ended an incredible run for seniors Karissa Lang, Savannah Carver, Cierra Thompson and Jazman Patterson who each earned four letters as the Mustangs improved in each of their collegiate seasons. MSU enjoyed its best season since 2002-03 finishing the year at 19-8.
"You're taught to leave things better than you found them," Lang said. "I feel like we've done that. I wouldn't trade these four years for anything."
The Mustangs have much to look forward to with 10 returning letter winners going into next season.