Hardin-Simmons exorcises demons in win over Trinity

Photo by Brandon McAuliffe

Share or Save for Later

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Save to Favorites

ABILENE – The last two weekends have been healing for the Hardin-Simmons women’s basketball program on its home floor. One week ago, the Cowgirls became only the eighth team in 26 years to host and win the American Southwest Conference tournament.

The Cowgirls faced a different challenge inside the Mabee Complex when they met Trinity in the second round of the NCAA Division III women’s tournament. Saturday marked the third consecutive year HSU and the Tigers met in the NCAA tournament and the fourth time overall, with Trinity winning all three previous contests.

Trinity has been a thorn in the side of HSU coach Kendra Whitehead, who led the Cowgirls to four appearances in the Sweet 16 as a player. The first contest between these programs in the postseason was in 2003 when the undefeated Cowgirls entered as the No. 1 team in the country. Trinity went on to pull off the 67-61 upset of HSU, which marked the final game in the legendary career of then Kendra Anderson.

While Whitehead has turned the HSU program into a consistent winner, the Tigers have been an opponent the Cowgirls couldn’t defeat in the NCAA tournament. That is until Saturday night.

The Cowgirls outscored Trinity 35-8 over the final 14:11 of the first half en route to an 84-62 victory. HSU advances to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2006 and will meet NYU at 6 p.m. Friday.

“This was an interesting matchup and one that we’ve seen the last two years. And, yes, they ended my career in 2003, so thank you for rehashing that,” a seemingly joking Whitehead said during the postgame press conference. “It was fun to face them and have a chance for a little bit of redemption.”

While HSU’s offense caught fire from 3-point range, hitting 6 of 12 attempts from long range in the second quarter, the Cowgirls defense pleased Whitehead the most.

“We talk to our team about playing in five-minute segments. The last five minutes of the first quarter, we held them to two points,” Whitehead said. “Then we held them to four points in each five-minute segment of the second quarter, so we were celebrating our shots, but honestly, it was our defense that was getting us going and getting it done.”

HSU sports a boisterous student section, which showed up in force during each game the last two weekends. Cowgirls senior Parris Parmer, who etched her name in HSU women’s basketball lore after scoring her 1,500th career point against Trinity, credited the environment and the experience of playing at home in the postseason during the last three seasons for the team’s success during the tournament.

“I remember when we hosted the conference tournament against UTD last year, (the crowd) kind of hurt us because were weren’t used to it, and we were rattled,” Parmer said. “We learned from last year, had another big crowd, and got all the rustiness out of the way. The crowd helped build our confidence, and we knew they were supporting us no matter what.”

“I would take not being able to hear coach or my teammates every day with a crowd like that,” HSU senior guard Anna Fanelli added.

The Cowgirls will hit the road for the remainder of the NCAA tournament. Trinity coach Cameron Hill believes HSU is building something special.

“This class of seniors that play for Hardin-Simmons is a class of young women that I’ve enjoyed competing against the entire time,” Hill said. “I think they have a chance to do something special here in the next round. I know they will take this opportunity seriously and enjoy every second.”

This article is available to our Digital Subscribers.
Click "Subscribe Now" to see a list of subscription offers.
Already a Subscriber? Sign In to access this content.

Sign In
Don't Miss Any Exclusive Coverage!

We've been the Bible of Texas football fans for 64 years. By joining the DCTF family you'll gain access to all of our exclusive content and have our magazines mailed to you!