Playing against its ninth nationally-ranked opponent this season, the Seward County Community College women’s basketball team wasn’t able to pull off the road upset as No. 13 Cloud County Community College defeated the Lady Saints, 66-78, on Sunday afternoon at Arley Bryant Gymnasium in Concordia. The Lady Thunderbirds received double-figure scoring from four players and held the lead for the majority of the contest as they remain unbeaten in the Jayhawk West Conference (5-0) and improve to 16-2 overall. Seward County drops to 12-7 overall and to 3-2 in conference play.

In the opening minutes, the first nine points for Seward County came from behind the arc as Stephani Rhoten connected from long range and LaNell Taylor made two 3-pointers with SCCC trailing early, 9-14. After Tegan Cunningham made a jump shot to cut Cloud County’s lead to five points (15-20), the Lady T-Birds went on an 8-0 run to post their largest first-half lead, 15-27, with 9:55 to play in the half.

Seward County trailed 29-40 with just two minutes before halftime. The Lady Saints finished the first half going on an 9-2 run, with Rhoten scoring seven points and freshman post Kasia Gawor making a jump shot to cut the Lady T-Bird lead to 38-41 at halftime.

The Lady T-Birds opened the second half shooting well from the field going on a 9-2 run while grabbing a 50-40 lead. Midway through the second half, Seward County took the lead on an 11-2 scoring run with Cunningham tallying eight points in the four minute scoring sequence. Cunningham, the fifth leading scorer in the nation (22.1 ppg.), finished the game scoring 19 points with five rebounds.

Cloud County came right back to take the lead and would prevail down the stretch to win its seventh home game this season.

A main contributor for Seward County was freshman Amanda Pierson who scored 12 points with seven rebounds and collected a career-high eight blocks. In addition, Lady Saints’ freshman point guard Stephani Rhoten collected 15 points, seven rebounds, six assists and three steals.

Seward County did shoot well from long range hitting 6-of-15, despite shooting just 57 percent from the charity stripe (12-of-21).

The Lady Thunderbirds were led by Katie O’Neill (19 points, 8-of-8 free throws), Kenya Howard (19 points, six rebounds), Kara Champlin (12 points, 12 rebounds, four blocks) and Deandra Schirmer (10 points, six rebounds).

Seward County will play its third straight road game next Wednesday, Jan. 23, at 5:30 p.m. against Garden City Community College (6-12, 2-3) at the Perryman Center in Garden City, Kan.