It is hard to figure out if it is the paint that isnít actually painted, the brown and yellow colored floor, or the tight confines of the Perryman Center in Garden City that has been hard for the Seward County Lady Saints to solve of late, but whatever it is, it struck again this weekend as the 10th ranked Lady Saints dropped their first two games of the 2011 season after holding second half leads in both contests.

Fresh off of Turkey Day, the #10 Lady Saints had about as good of an early season matchup as you can get as they put their perfect 7-0 record on the line against #9 Independence who was also 7-0. Things started well for Seward who got out to an early lead and then controlled the pace through the middle part of the half. They went up 25-17 later on but saw their advantage cut to one before the half at 36-35. The Lady Saints were hot in the first 20 minutes, shooting 52% from the field and 43% from the three point line while the Lady Pirates were just off that pace as 47% and 50% from beyond the arc. Independence quickly took the lead over in the opening minutes of the second half and went up by as many as nine at one point as the Lady Saints struggled to find the basket on the offensive end. There was no quit in the Lady Saints though as they battled back to make things close late before eventually falling by four 69-65. Seward managed to shoot just 30% in the second half and were outscored by four, the final spread, at the free throw line 15-11. Ashlynn Knoll had a big game for the Lady Saints in the loss, going 7 for 13 from the field and 8 of 11 from the free throw line to finish with 24 points and 9 rebounds. Fellow sophomore Mariah Lee also gave her best effort for Seward, scoring 16 points on 6 of 9 shooting and also chipping in 5 rebounds in the defeat.
BOX SCORE
Things did not get any easier for the Lady Saints on Saturday of the Garden City Thanksgiving Classic as 9-1 New Mexico JC stood in their way on day two. Seward looked early on as if they had shaken off their late defeat against Independence from a day earlier as they took off out of the gates to a 17-7 lead. They took their largest lead of the game at 22-9 and looked like they were going to put things away early. However, the Lady T-Birds pushed back and Seward found a lid on the hoop on their end of the floor as New Mexico closed the first half on a 16-6 run to make it a 28-25 game in favor of the Lady Saints at the break. The first half was a defensive struggle with Seward leading the way at 28% and New Mexico shooting just 21% from the field. The second half continued to be a struggle for Seward on the offensive end of the floor but they found a way to remain in the game and still led midway through the half. However, as their coldness turned to ice as the half came down the homestretch, the Lady Saints saw their lead slip and without their normal firepower, could not come from behind. New Mexico heated up at the right time as the final minutes ticked down and the Lady T-Birds opened up a double digit lead on Seward before finishing them off with a 71-60 win. The Lady Saints bench was their lone bright spot in the loss to the T-Birds as both Payton Flemming and Charmaine Burns finished with 14 points apiece. Lee was the only Seward starter to get any sort of rhythm going in the game as she finished 7 of 12 from the field and had 14 points. The rest of the Lady Saints starting lineup struggled mightily, going just 4 for 39 and combined for just 11 points, nearly 30 points under their season average.
BOX SCORE
Seward falls to 7-2 on the year and the Lady Saints odd winless streak in Garden City reaches 5 with their last victory in the Perryman Center coming in February of 2010. The Lady Saints will look to get back on the right track this weekend when they head to the Sports Arena in Hutchinson where they will take on Barclay on Friday at 1:30 and #17 State Fair on Saturday in the early game.