Lady Warriors drop heartbreaker to Zuni at Hope Invitational

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The Lady Warriors are now more than halfway through their 2012-13 season, and at this point two irrefutable truths can be said about them.

One, when they’re on their game they can be pretty difficult to stop. Socorro has developed an increasingly aggressive style of play, and their full-court press has turned into quite a formidable one.

Two, they have what can only be described as an unintentional flare for the dramatic, and Saturday afternoon’s consolation final against Zuni at the Hope Invite in Albuquerque was every bit of that.

Jonathan Miller/El Defensor Chieftain: Ashley Pyke utilizes a bounce pass to avoid a double team on Saturday against Zuni. Pyke scored six points in a two point Socorro loss.

Unfortunately for the Socorro faithful, it was also rather gut-wrenching to witness.

The Lady Warriors built as much as a seven-point lead against Zuni in the second half, but the hot-shooting Thunderbirds somehow managed to escape with a 48-46 victory.

The game marked the fifth time this season Socorro has lost by fewer than five points. The Lady Warriors dropped to 8-10 on the year, while Zuni improved to 7-6.

Socorro teetered on the edge of taking control of the game in the second quarter and much of the second half, but every time it went on a run, the T-Birds would find a way to drain a clutch bucket.

The Lady Warriors took a 24-20 halftime lead, then six consecutive points by Ashley Pyke in the third quarter helped them build a 35-28 lead. But Zuni is a team that looked like it lives and dies behind the arc, and on Saturday it was living the good life. The Thunderbirds drained seven 3-pointers, and most of those were aptly contested by the Socorro defense.

The Lady Warriors shot extremely well from 3-point range as well as hitting six from downtown, but in the end it was the two feet closest to the basket that proved their enemy.

With just more than five minutes remaining in the game Socorro had a 37-32 lead and looked to be in pretty good shape. Zuni scored four quick points to cut that lead to 37-36, but 60 seconds later Dez Armijo drained a 3-pointer to push the Lady Warriors lead to 40-36. The streaky Thunderbirds struck back again with a five point burst to take a 41-40 lead with 2 minutes and 12 seconds remaining, then Ashton Monette hit a 3-ball with 1:55 left to capture a 41-40 Socorro lead.

Almost as if the whole thing had been scripted, Alissa Paquin answered for Zuni’s two possessions later to give the T-Birds a 46-43 advantage with 1:33 to go, and a Zuni free throw pushed the lead to 47-43 with less than 30 seconds left.