Midwestern State claimed its first Lone Star Conference championship in 12 seasons with a 73-63 win over Texas Woman's in its regular season finale Wednesday night at D.L. Ligon Coliseum.
The Mustangs also clinched the top seed in next week's LSC postseason tournament in Allen after Abilene Christian fell to Incarnate Word 68-53 earlier Wednesday in San Antonio.
MSU gained its NCAA Division II-era regular season best 21st win by improving to 21-5 while moving to 16-4 in league play and can do no worse than tie Abilene Christian, who fell to 15-4, for the conference title by virtue of the Mustangs' sweep of Tarleton State. ACU ends the regular season Saturday night against Texas A&M-Kingsville.
Senior forward Andrea Carter notched her 15th double-double of the season, netting a career-high 23 points while pulling down 12 rebounds to go along with five steals to lead the way for the Mustangs.
Sophomore guard Dianna Jones, who finished with 14 points, five assists and four rebounds, ignited a 7-0 run late in the opening half with a 3-pointer from the left wing. Carter added a transition layup and hit a pair of free throws to build a 30-17 lead with 5:06 remaining in the first half.
The Pioneers (6-19, 4-15) clawed back to within 34-32 on a pair of Rebekah Cluley free throws two minutes into the second half, but the Mustangs reeled off the next 13 points re-establish command highlighted by a 3-pointer from junior guard Kirsti Degelia and a three-point play by Carter as the Mustangs led 47-32 with 14:59 to go.
Texas Woman's whittled the deficit to eight points but could get no closer.
Degelia connected on three treys on her way to 17 points to give the Mustangs a trio of players in double figures.
Ria Pateraki led the way with 16 points while Cluley pitched in 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists for the Pioneers.
Midwestern State opens LSC postseason tournament against an opponent to be determined (No. 8 seed) next Wednesday at the Allen (Texas) Event Center. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.
Midwestern State maintained its number three position in the South Central Region Rankings released Wednesday afternoon by the NCAA Division II Women's Basketball Committee.
The Mustangs were a half-game behind Abilene Christian for first place in the Lone Star Conference before defeating Texas Woman's at D.L. Ligon Coliseum to close the regular season.
NCAA Division II tournament selection is set for Sunday, March 10.
Colorado Mesa (21-1), the champion of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, tops the rankings followed by Abilene Christian (19-4) in second, with MSU (20-5) third. Texas-Permian Basin (17-5), the Heartland Conference champion, moved up to fourth with St. Mary's (17-5) fifth. Metro State (Colo.) (17-7) slipped to sixth, with Tarleton State (15-7) is seventh, and Fort Lewis (Colo.) (16-8) eighth, followed by Colorado State-Pueblo (17-7), and Incarnate Word (16-7).
The South Central Region consists of the Lone Star, Rocky Mountain Athletic and Heartland conferences. The winners of the each league's postseason tournament gains an automatic bid into the postseason while five others earn at-large access.
The top eight teams from each of the eight regions advance to the postseason which begins March 15-18 at campus sites of the top-ranked team in each region.
The winners of each regional gain a berth in the Elite Eight which is set for Bill Greehey Arena in San Antonio on March 26-29.