The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

February 27, 2014

Pacers can’t recover from slow start, eliminated in 53-35 loss

By Ryan Costello, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle

ENID, Okla. — The Enid Pacers entered their playoff opener on a team-record 10-game win streak, but all that momentum leading into Thursday’s elimination game vs. Edmond Memorial didn’t make the trip to Broken Arrow.

The Pacers didn’t hit their first shot from the field until almost halfway into the second quarter, and Enid couldn’t bounce back from the slow start, losing their third straight playoff opener, 53-35.

“It just wasn’t our night,” said Enid head coach Robb Mills, now 51-19 overall, but 0-3 in playoff games as a head coach. “The ball wasn’t going in. We were playing pretty good defense to be honest, but I don’t know. It just wasn’t our night. They played well, they played hard. I thought we gave it everything we had, but things just weren’t going our way.”

The Pacers had four turnovers and a miss in their first five possessions, trailing 7-1 after the first quarter, the only Enid point coming on a free throw by senior Abby Lee. Enid’s deficit grew to 12-1 before Grace Enmeier rebounded a missed free throw by Lee and scored through a Memorial foul, completing the three-point play to pull the Pacers within 12-4. Enid didn’t hit another shot before halftime, scoring its next four on free throws to trail 20-8 at intermission.

“Obviously, we tried to keep our routine the same,” Mills said. “Any time you’re in a game like that, they feel pressure, and when the start is the way it was, they start pressing and wanting to do things. We gave effort, it just wasn’t our night.”

Enid pulled to within 22-12 on back-to-back baskets by Enmeier and Haven Bay, but Edmond Memorial scored 12 of the last 16 points of the third, taking a 34-16 lead on consecutive threes to close the quarter.

Andi Pierce scored 11 of her game-high 15 points in the final quarter, but the Pacers trailed by as much as 25 late. Lee finished with eight points, Enmeier had five points and Shelley Mueller had one point, the three seniors playing in their final game for Enid. The trio won 67 games in four seasons.

“You could talk about what-ifs,” Mills said. “This group of girls, and not just the seniors, but the seniors were a huge part of it, they won a lot of games over their career. I just wanted them to understand how much they’ve accomplished … But it doesn’t make the hurt go away.”