MVP’s Hustle, Determination Helped Comets Make School History
Fresh From Their ASC Victory, the Comets Compete in the National Tournament Starting Friday
Feb. 28, 2013
Morgan Kilgore, who was named Most Valuable Player after UT Dallas won the American Southwest Conference title, cuts down the net after the game. (Photo by ASC Sports)
At just 5-feet-8-inches, Morgan Kilgore has always worked harder at basketball than her taller peers. Ever since she learned the game at age 8, she’s hustled to be a power player.
“My older brother and his friends always used to play in the front yard,” Kilgore said. “I used to chase after my brother so they’d let me play. They wouldn’t take it easy on me, though, and I guess I learned it that way.”
Her determination and hard work have paid off.
Kilgore’s brother and her parents cheered for her from the stands last Sunday as the UT Dallas women’s basketball team upset Louisiana College to win the American Southwest Conference title. Kilgore, with a game-high 16 points, was named the Tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
Now she and her teammates will travel to Memphis, Tenn., for a match-up Friday against Washington University-St. Louis in the national tournament's first round. This is the team’s first-ever trip to the NCAA Division III National Tournament.
Kilgore scored a game-high of 16 points in the ASC Championship game. (Photo by Doug Fejer)
Kilgore, a computer science major who transferred to UT Dallas this semester from Paris Junior College, said she’d almost given up playing basketball.
“I just decided I didn’t want to play. I was just going to be a regular student. But the assistant coach from UT Dallas called me and asked me to try it one last time. She said to try it for a year, and told me I could quit if I didn’t like it.”
Kilgore liked playing with the Comets so much that she’s kept it up. Head coach Polly Thomason, for one, is glad she stuck with it.
“She’s obviously made a huge impact on our team,” Thomason said. “She fits our personality really well, and she’s very sweet and kind. She’s great to be around.”
Even though Kilgore is an “undersized post player,” Thomason said she brings the energy and agility the team needs.
“She’s very quick and athletic,” Thomason said. “We like to push and pick up the tempo, and she’s very good at that. When we need to get the rebound, she gets in there and does it for us.”
Kilgore said playing basketball gives her the chance to push herself beyond what she thinks she can accomplish.
The Comets will travel to Memphis, Tenn., this week, the team’s first-ever trip to the NCAA Division III National Tournament. From left: Kimmie Grimes, Kilgore and Amber Brown. (Photo by Doug Fejer)
”I just love it. I love the competition,” she said. “There’s also a very strategic side of basketball. It tests your attitude, it tests your will -- how you react when you’re tired. It tests a lot of things at one time. I like that.”
The Comets had to turn their season around just to get to the tournament. Kilgore helped them finish the season by winning seven straight games after the team had suffered through a six-game losing streak midway through the season. To win the title game, they overcame a 38-28 halftime deficit.
“We had beaten them before, so we came in really confident. We knew that if we were going to win, we’d have to do the little things right,” Kilgore said.
“The first half was shaky because we were playing into their game. Coach told us at halftime to start playing our game: to keep rebounding, boxing them out and making smart decisions.”
Though they swept the title round, 3-0, the Comets face particularly tough competition in the next round. Opponent Washington University is making its 24th straight trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Even so, Kilgore isn’t fazed.
“We’re just taking it one game at a time,” Kilgore said. “We feel we can beat anyone when we do what [Coach] Polly tells us. We’re going to go out and fight for it.”
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