UMHB Basketball Teams Return To Conference Play

Hardin-Simmons center Addison Garcia takes a shot from the outside during Saturday's 76-65 win against LeTourneau. Garcia scored a team-high 20 points.(Photo: Jordan Hofeditz/Reporter-News)Buy Photo

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In the middle of a seven-game losing streak and playing without its top scorer, the Hardin-Simmons women’s basketball team needed someone to step up on Saturday. Addison Garcia did just that.

Garcia scored eight points in the first quarter, four in the second and eight more in the third to finish with 20 points as the Cowgirls (4-9 overall, 2-4 conference) defeated LeTourneau 76-65. It was the perfect time for the junior out of The Colony’s Prestonwood Christian Academy to put up the second-highest point total in her career.

Related: Hardin-Simmons women return to win column against LeTourneau

Photo Gallery: Hardin-Simmons women defeat LeTourneau, men fall

The Cowgirls had not won since a 67-65 overtime victory over Belhaven on Nov. 30. The seven-game skid included two one-point losses and a six-point setback as HSU fell from 3-2 to 3-9 before turning things around against LeTourneau.

“We needed it,” Garcia said. “We’ve been so, so close in a bunch of them and we just put everything together (Saturday). Two games ago we had a terrible third quarter. Last game we had a terrible fourth quarter, so we wanted to figure out how to put four quarters together. We figured it out. This is good (for us).”

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Addison Garcia makes an outlet pass following a defensive rebound during Hardin-Simmons' 76-65 win against LeTourneau. Garcia led the Cowgirls with 20 points. (Photo: Jordan Hofeditz/Reporter-News)

It came at a good time for Garcia, too. She felt like she had struggled the past couple times out.

“I’ve been kind of having a rough last two games,” Garcia said. “Not rough, just haven’t been scoring like I need to for my team. My coaches this game (said), ‘We need you, we need you to score.’ And I came off the bench to give that extra burst of energy. As soon as I came in the game, I knew what I had to do. My teammates gave me the ball. It’s really a team effort.”

Garcia is one of five players on HSU’s roster at least 6-feet tall, along with senior Heidi Schroeder and freshmen Mika Davis, Kaitlyn Ellis and Karlea Ritchie. But there is something special when Garcia is on the floor with the basketball in her hands.

“Her high school coach (Sherry Olison) probably said it best, she kind of has that ‘it' factor,” HSU coach Melanie Chonko said. “Just leadership, all those things that you need in a player to be able to help your team be its best. And then she’s pretty unstoppable in the paint, too. She brings a lot to our team and when she goes to the board it makes it even better. (She's) just a great kid.”

And with plenty of weapons inside, it allows Chonko some different options and different ways to use them.

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HSU's Addison Garcia had five double-doubles during her freshman year, but missed last season due to an injury. The 6-foot center is back this year and scored 20 points as the Cowgirls defeated LeTourneau to snap a seven-game losing streak on Saturday. (Photo: Tommy Metthe)

“It’s nice to mix up the looks,” Chonko said. “To be able to go with two bigs or go with Karlea, who you can’t say enough about her. She plays so hard and does a lot for us. But it is nice to be able to have those looks and be able to have a little rest, especially with Addison needing it for her hip.”

To start the season, Garcia came out with 11- and 10-point efforts in wins at the Daly Seven Tip-Off Classic. She then scored 14 against Belhaven and 13 against Texas-Tyler. But she had not reached double figures since that Dec. 7 loss.

Since that time, she had also not taken more than six shots in a game. Chonko wanted to fix that Saturday, especially without Danie Mabry’s 13.3 points per game in the lineup.

“Absolutely, that’s big,” Chonko said. “We told her after the last game, ‘You’re not touching the ball enough. We’ve got to get you the ball more.’ We were able to do that (Saturday) and she came through. (I'm) proud of her.”

Garcia missed all of last season with a hip injury, but she had shown her upside during her freshman campaign. She finished the 2015-16 campaign on the all-ASC West freshman team and honorable mention all-ASC West, averaging 11.2 points and 7.9 rebounds in 22 games with 18 starts. Her career-high came at the end of the year against Mary Hardin-Baylor, HSU’s next opponent, with 23 points.

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Hardin-Simmons forward Addison Garcia gets fouled taking a shot against LeTourneau during Saturday's 76-65 win. (Photo: Jordan Hofeditz/Reporter-News)

To come off that kind of season and not be able to play was tough for Garcia, but she’s making the most of her return to the court. The health issues are not over for Garcia, who will have to have another surgery when this season ends. But she expects to be ready by the start of next season.

“I had an awesome freshman season. Loved it, loved my team,” Garcia said. “To go out with an injury is super hard. During last year, ‘Can’t wait until I get to play again. Can’t wait. Can’t wait.’ So, this year has just been a good reminder of what the Lord has me here to do. Basketball is just a sport but (in that locker room) is family. I’m just really thankful.”

And now the junior is trying to get the most out of this year’s freshman class, which with 10 members, outnumbers the two sophomores, one junior and four seniors.

“I love it,” Garcia said. “I love leading alongside the seniors on this team and I’m so thankful that they’ve allowed me to take a leadership role. The freshmen are awesome. I couldn’t ask for better freshmen.”

Asking her for 20 points per game might be too much, but the Cowgirls hope to get consistent production out of Garcia, who is now averaging 9.7 points per game. That starts this weekend as HSU hosts UMHB at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, with Concordia coming at 2 p.m. Saturday.

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Thomas Metthe/Reporter-News Hardin-Simmons' Addison Garcia (42) drives to the basket while being guarded by Howard Payne's Sarahi Castillo (32) during the fourth quarter of the Cowgirls' 85-66 loss on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, at HSU's Mabee Complex. (Photo: Tommy Metthe)

“She’s pretty unstoppable, in my opinion,” Chonko said. “She opens things up for our guards if they have to start doubling her, that makes a difference for everybody else. Hopefully she can stay on a roll and we can look for her and do a good job of getting her the ball."

Source : http://www.reporternews.com/story/sports/college/hardin-simmons/2018/01/09/garcia-making-presence-known-return-hsu-womens-basketball-lineup/1015187001/

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