ASHLAND — The last chapter of the story was written on Monday evening,
It wasn’t the happy ending Walsh’s women’s basketball team was hoping for. But make no mistake, the Cavaliers will beam with pride as they replay their season’s story from cover to cover.
Ellie Droste helped rally Grand Valley State to a 64-61 win over Walsh in the NCAA Midwest Division II Regional Championship Game. The sophomore guard scored 13 of his game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter en route to regional MVP honors.
Walsh ends his best season in the program’s NCAA era at 28-5. It included an 18-game winning streak, two wins over Ashland on Eagles home court and a first-ever Sweet 16 appearance,
“Every year we’ve reached the tournament, we’ve made it a game further,” Cavs senior guard Sha Carter said. “It’s great for the underclass because they’ll be back. We’ll be back here next year.
“It was good to see us get a foot in the door. And I think next year we’re going to win it all.”
Carter did his best to help Walsh take a giant step towards next week’s Elite Eight in Birmingham, Ala. She scored eight of her 15 points early in the fourth quarter to help the Cavs take a 51-44 lead.
“I was frustrated with myself in the first half,” Carter said. “I felt like I couldn’t shoot. But I just wanted to play defense, bounce back and get my team involved. Then when I got hot I was like, ‘OK, let’s keep going.
“I was like, ‘The next game. The next game. The next game.’ … I was just trying to be the energetic person in the team.”
Droste answered for Grand Valley State. She scored 13 of her team’s next 18 points to rally the Lakers. His layup with 30 seconds remaining pushed Grand Valley State ahead 62-58.
“They just kept going for her with one high ball screen,” Walsh head coach Kate Bruce said. “She did a great job turning the corner, reaching the edge and finishing over our players.
“It was huge. We couldn’t get stops when we needed them on the stretch.”
Mayci Sales finished with 11 points and nine rebounds for Walsh. Alyssa Dean scored her 10 points in the first half.
Sales is the only fifth-year senior on the team. The former Tuslaw Mustang finishes her career second on the Cavs scoring list with 2,041 points.
“Mayci was my very first signing here,” Bruce said. “It’s hard to see her go, but man, she left this place better than she found it. I loved coaching her. She will definitely be missed.”
Carter confirmed she would use her extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She is Walsh’s career leading scorer with 2,116 points. His record can last a long time.
“It’s perfect for me,” Carter said. “I love it. I will get my master’s degree, which is important to me.
” Why not ? To win.
Contact Mike at [email protected]
On Twitter: @mpopovichREP