SAN ANTONIO - Senior guard Alexis Popelar continued her stellar early season play as she hit a runner in the lane with 7.8 to play to give Hardin-Simmons a 63-62 win over Southwestern in the Trinity Thanksgiving Classic on Sunday in San Antonio.
Southwestern jumped out to an early 15-6 at the 15:52 mark, but HSU rallied and took a 30-28 lead on a Shelby Hanna layup with 3:51 to play in the half. Southwestern ended the half on a 11-4 run to take a 39-34 lead into halftime.
The Pirates led 44-38 when the Cowgirls went on a 9-0 run to take the lead. Coco Cartwright's 3-pointer capped the run to give HSU a 47-44 lead with 13:52 to play. The teams went back and forth and Taylor Rose's 3-pointer made it 53-52 with Southwestern leading with 11:11 to play.
After that neither team led by more than two points the rest of the game and there were eight lead changes and four ties the rest of the way. Jordan Owens layup with 4:36 to play was the last bucket that the Pirates would make the rest of the game.
Jessi Perez hit a free throw for HSU at 1:42 then Southwestern took possession and milked the shot clock and missed but received the offensive rebound on two different occasions and took the clock down to :27 when Perez blocked Katelyn Bartell's shot to setup the Cowgirls' final possession.
Popelar took the ball in the right wing drove into the paint and hit a tough runner over two defenders. Southwestern had the ball late and Nikki Nieheus knocked the ball away from Chelsea Leeder and it was tied up with 0.8 to play. Owens got off a good look but it rimmed out at the buzzer.
Popelar led the Cowgirls with 20 points and finished with 57 points in the tournament. Cartwright had 12 points and freshman post Shelby Hanna had 10 points for HSU.
Owens led the Pirates with 19 points and Valerie Logan added 14 points. Leeder had 12 points, five rebounds, five assists and six blocks.
The Cowgirls are now 2-2 on the year and open conference play with its home opener Thursday at 5:30 against Ozarks at the Mabee Complex. Southwestern fell to 3-2 on the year.
Information provided by HSU athletics department.