LADY LIONS MARCH ON; PARK, COLUMBIA ELIMINATED AT NAIA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
Basketball - Thu, Mar. 16, 2017
ST. LOUIS – The Freed-Hardeman University Lady Lions were the last AMC team to take to the floor on Wednesday evening in the first round of the NAIA Division I National Basketball Championships, but they were the lone AMC team to advance to play on Friday. FHU (34-0) eliminated the hosts of the Women's Basketball Championship – the Rocky Mountain College Battlin' Bears, to advance to the second round for the fifth straight season. The other two AMC institutions to play on Wednesday, however, suffered difficult defeats, as both the Park University men (21-8) and the Columbia College women (26-7) were eliminated as their opponents erased second half deficits to advance.
#1 Freed-Hardeman defeats #8 Rocky Mountain College 62-52
Courtesy Freed-Hardeman Sports Information
BILLINGS, Montana - The No. 1 Freed-Hardeman Lady Lion basketball team got off to a solid start in the opening round of the NAIA National Tournament Wednesday, as they took down tournament host Rocky Mountain (Montana) College with a final score of 62-52 at the Rimrock Auto Arena in Billings, Montana. With the win, the Lady Lions improve to 34-0 on the season and advance to the second round of the NAIA Tournament, where they will face the No. 5 seed The Master's (Calif.) Friday, March 17 at 3:15 PM C.D.T.
Kim Mallory paced the Lady Lion attack with a double-double, as she put up 19 points and pulled down 11 rebounds while shooting a 50 percent clip from the field. Carrie Hatchel followed close behind with 18 points, as she went 6-for-11 from behind the arc to keep the Lady Lions in control down the stretch. Sandrea Sylman also reached double digits and rounded out the scoring for the Lady Lions with 11 points.
Freed-Hardeman shot 41 percent from the field in the game compared to Rocky Mountain College (13-19), who shot 28 percent from the field and 33 percent from behind the arc. Hailee Farstveet led Rocky Mountain on the attack with 21 points while Markaela Francis followed close behind with 12 points of her own. Alecia Chamberlin rounded out the scoring for the Bears with 10 points.
The Lady Lions jumped out to an early lead and never gave it back, as they held a 23-10 lead following the first quarter and entered the break with a 30-22 advantage.
The second half would be much of the same, as the Lady Lions held a near-double digit lead for the remainder of the game with Rocky Mountain College not being able to get any closer than seven points the remainder of the way. The Lady Lions reached their largest lead of the second half at the 62-45 mark with 5:21 remaining in regulation on their way to a 62-52 victory.
#6 University of Montana Western defeats #3 Columbia 63-53
Courtesy Columbia College Sports Information
BILLINGS, Mont. – On Wednesday evening, the 12th-ranked Columbia College women's basketball team was back in action when they traveled to Billings, Montana, to take on the 21st-ranked University of Montana Western Bulldogs (24-8) in the first round of the 2017 NAIA Division I Women's Basketball National Championship presented by Wells Fargo. The Cougars, who earned an at-large bid after finishing the regular season with a 26-6 record, saw their season end tonight as they were defeated by the Bulldogs by a final score of 63-53. With the win, Montana Western will advance to take on Oklahoma City University in the second round of the national championships.
The third seeded Cougars came out in the first quarter of the game and were very patient on the offensive end. They moved the ball well and took advantage of their open looks as they jumped out to an early 12-7 lead over the Bulldogs midway through the first period. The Cougars continued to knock down their shots as the quarter progressed and held a 15-11 lead heading into the second.
In the second quarter of the game, the Cougars turned up their defensive efforts to start the period. They forced the Bulldogs to turn the ball over several times but were unable to take advantage on the other end as they had trouble taking care of the ball themselves. Despite being lose with the ball to start the quarter, the Cougars were able to settle into their offense as halftime neared. They ended the half on an 11-4 run and held a 31-22 lead at the halftime break. Columbia College was led by Raegan Wieser who finished the half with a team high 12 points.
The Bulldogs came out of the halftime break and were looking to make a run at the Cougars. They were able to start the half on a 13-9 run and outscored Columbia 16-14 in the quarter to cut the Cougars lead down to seven heading into the final period. Despite holding a seven point advantage, it was clear that Montana Western had the momentum going into the fourth. The Bulldogs opened the period on 15-2 run and were able to take their first lead of the ballgame with just five minutes remaining in the contest. The Cougars did the best they could to get back into the game but their shots just didn't seem to be falling down the final stretch of the game and Montana Western was able to close out Columbia to earn a spot in the second round of the 2017 NAIA Division I Women's Basketball National Championship presented by Wells Fargo.
The Cougars were led by Raegan Wieser who finished with a team high 18 points in the game. In addition to Wieser, Morgan Brandt added 14 points and a team high eight rebounds to round out the top performers for Columbia.
With the loss, this marks the end of the 2016-17 season for the Columbia College women's basketball team. The Cougars finished with season with a 26-7 record on the season and a 19-5 record in conference play.
#4 Georgetown College defeats #5 Park 81-72
Courtesy Park University Sports Information
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A late-game offensive drought cost the Park University Pirates dearly, as No. 4-seeded Georgetown (Ky.) used a 12-0 run to take control and pull away for an 81-72 victory over fifth-seeded Park Wednesday night in the opening round of the NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship.
"I'm not sure you can say this game really slipped away from us," said Park head coach Jason Kline, whose team fell in the opening round for the second straight season. "It was pretty close for the whole game. We just had a couple of bad possessions and (Georgetown) capitalized. Once (Georgetown) made their run and we didn't score and had to foul, it's hard to come back. We gave ourselves an opportunity to win and that's all you can ask."
The Pirates led 66-62 with 5:36 remaining in the game after a pair of free throws by Xavielle Brown, but those were Park's last points for 4:07 as the Tigers (24-7) scored 12 straight points to build a 74-66 lead with 2:25 to go. Park didn't go quietly, closing to within four points at 76-72 following two free throws by Brown with 52 seconds left. However, Georgetown got three stops and hit 5-of-8 free throws in the final 39 seconds to pull away and end the Pirates' season.
"Every team that gets here (to the national tournament) is good and you've got to play well if you want to win," said Kline. "We came here tonight expecting to win and we wanted to win this game. It just didn't work out that way. It's a grind all year for us just to get here and we're glad to be back, but we wanted to win."
Park (21-9) came out of the gate fast, scoring six of the game's first eight points in the opening 2:58, but Georgetown would go on a 9-0 run to open up an 11-6 lead with 13:52 to go in the first half. The Pirates didn't stay down long, though, nailing four 3-pointers as part of a 17-6 burst to go from being down by five to up 23-17 with 9:08 remaining. Brown had three of the treys as he poured in 16 points and snagged five rebounds in the first half.
The Tigers, making their record 36th appearance in the NAIA National Championship, pulled back to within two points on three occasions, one point once and tied the game at 35 on a basket by Quan Poindexter with 1:53 to go in the half, but a pair of baskets by Noel Surles in the final 1:32 sent Park into the locker room with a 39-37 lead.
Along with Brown's 16 and five, B.J. Watson had 12 points and three assists for the Pirates, who only made 14-of-33 (42.4 percent) from the field, but they drained 7 of their 14 3-point attempts (50 percent) in the opening 20 minutes and forced Georgetown to commit nine turnovers.
Park used a 7-0 surge early in the second half to amass a 52-46 advantage with 14:04 to go, but the Tigers responded with six straight of their own to re-tie the game at 52. The teams traded the lead back and forth for the next six-plus minutes before four straight free throws by Brown at the 6:11 and 5:46 marks gave Park a 66-62 lead before the Pirates' costly offensive slump.Brown finished his storied career with 24 points and nine rebounds, 9-for-9 at the foul line, Watson had 16 and five assists, Zach Rutland pitched in 10 and five assists and Surles chipped in 10 and five rebounds off the bench for the Pirates. Park finished the game 23-for-66 from the field (34.8 percent) and hit only nine of its 33 shots (27.3 percent) in the second half. However, the Pirates did sink 10 of their 25 3-point attempts (40 percent).
Georgetown, which plays in the second round Friday at 2:15 p.m., was led by Poindexter's 24 points and five rebounds. Troy Steward had 19 and four rebounds, Edson Avila added a double-double with 15 and 12 rebounds off the bench and Darion Burns had 10 and seven rebounds for the Tigers, who dominated Park on the glass, outrebounding the Pirates, 48-34.
Brown exits Park men's basketball as the program's third-leading scorer, with 2,074 career points.
Five other AMC teams will play their first round games on Thursday, and you can read more about those five teams here. For more information on the 80th Annual Buffalo Funds NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship, please visit www.naiahoops.com; and to follow the women's championship, click here.