By EARL WATT
• Leader & Times
Against a quality opponent, no lead is safe, and the No. 19 Lady Saints almost found that out the hard way.
Seward survived a late surge from New Mexico Junior College in Garden City Saturday, 69-66, but the Lady Saints at one time led by almost 30.
With less than two minutes to play, the Lady Saints had a 15-point lead.
But Seward struggled at the free throw line, and New Mexico was able to convert missed free throws into baskets.
The Lady Saints defense was stellar in the first half, holding New Mexico to only 17 points.
Seward expanded its 20-point lead to 29 by scoring the first nine points of the second half, and the Lady Saints had a 46-17 lead.
Whatever New Mexico was doing wrong, they fixed it.
The Lady Saints could not stop the Lady Thunderbirds in the final 15 minutes. New Mexico scored 19 points in five minutes to cut Seward’s 29 point lead to 17.
The Lady T-Birds outscored Seward 16-9 over the next six minutes, and the Seward lead was down to 10 with only four minutes to play.
The Lady Saints pushed back to a 15-point lead, but the Lady T-Birds were able to take advantage of an eight-for-18 performance at the free throw line in the second half to squeeze the lead to three.
But Seward was able to inbound the ball with less than a second to go to preserve the win.
Shanise Brooks led the Lady Saints with 19 points, and Briana Scott scored 12. Korina Chapman had a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
The Lady saints (9-0) will return to the Greenhouse for the Pizza Hut Classic. Seward will host McLennan at 6 p.m. Friday and Labette at 6 p.m. Saturday.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Roy Allen contributed to this report.