When senior Stephanie Urrutia’s name was called as one of the outstanding players of the tournament, she barely lifted her head. Her mouth open, gasping for breath, she looked at the crowd then dropped her head back into her hands. Senior Kerie Hughes failed to even glance up as her name was called. The Falcons had just lost the West Regional Championship game to the Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners.
After a perfect season, the Falcons tasted the bitterness of defeat for the first time in the most important game not to lose. The NCAA elite eight escaped their grasp by only five points.
Going into halftime, the Falcons held onto a lead of ten points and were looking strong. Urrutia scored fifteen points in the first half; nine of those on three point shots. Senior Kelley Berglund also looked strong scoring eleven. And an 82 percent average from the free-throw line helped the Falcons take advantage of the aggressive Roadrunners.
However, the momentum started to slip and a three point shot by Cal State senior Diane Dittburner took over the lead for the Roadrunners with nine minutes left to play. From that point on, the lead changed another three times with the Falcons tying the game for the last time at 78 points with less than two minutes of play. From there, the Falcons continued to fall further behind.
An injury to Cal State junior Jasmere Kirby, one of their top three scorers, threatened to slow the team. But they held on. A limping Kirby returned to play and was able to help end SPU’s run at an NCAA title.
Finally, the ever-persistent Roadrunners put the Falcons away on two free throws by Dittburner, taking them beyond the range of even a chance Hail Mary shot. The final score was 85-80.
As the Falcons filed out of Brougham Pavilion, the fans in attendance paid tribute to their team, chanting "SPU, SPU" as the players filed out for the last time this season. Head coach Gordy Presnell turned to those in attendance before walking out of the gym and gave a final wave and a thumbs-up.
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Title: Falcon’s lose in final game of West Regional Championship | Author: Laura Onstot | Section: Sports | Published Date: 2003-03-12 | Internal ID: 3242