Fifth-seeded Northwest Missouri State advanced to the MIAA Women’s Basketball Championship Tournament final for the first time since 2004 by upsetting the top seed and three-time defending champion Washburn Lady Blues, 59-56, Saturday afternoon (March 8) at Municipal Auditorium.
It was a tight game throughout, as neither team could get a lead of greater than five points in the first half. The Lady Blues (23-6) gained the early advantage, 11-6, with senior G Corkey Stiger scoring five of WU’s first 11.
Northwest stormed back to score nine in a row — four by senior C Mandi Schumacher — to get a 15-11 advantage with 14:10 left in the opening half. Stiger tallied the next five and put the Lady Blues back in front less than a minute later.
After the two squads traded two-point buckets, Northwest junior G Meghan Brue drained a three-pointer with 11:31 to go and followed up with a two-point jumper to make it a 22-18 Bearcats lead at the 10:13 mark.
Seven straight Washburn points — the last six coming from Stiger — again gave the Lady Blues a three-point edge with 6:54 remaining, 25-22. Northwest would then hold Washburn without a field goal from that point forward — the Lady Blues missed their last six shots and scored just a single point to six by the Bearcats as Northwest claimed a 28-26 halftime lead.
The Washburn drought extended into the second half, as the Bearcats scored the first five points out of the locker room to get their largest margin of the game, 33-26, with 19:11 remaining.
The Lady Blues came back to life with a 14-5 spurt to get a 40-38 lead with 14:25 left. Senior F Amanda Holmes scored five points in the run, including the tying three-pointer, while junior G Janice Bright had four points.
A three by Bright with 13:46 to go made it a 43-40 Washburn advantage before Northwest scored the next six points — four on consecutive buckets by Schumacher — to get its own three-point lead, 46-43.
Washburn knotted the score at 47-47 with 7:02 remaining on a Holmes jumper, but back-to-back treys from senior F Lauren Williams and senior G Kelli Nelson sent the Bearcats back to a six-point cushion.
Northwest led by seven with 22 seconds left before Washburn put on one last flurry. Holmes converted a three-point play to make it 57-53 at the 16-second mark. The Lady Blues were forced to foul, and sent Nelson to the line with 14 seconds on the clock — she made 1-of-2 to get the margin to five.
Stiger — held scoreless to that point in the second half after logging 16 in the first 20 minutes, drained a three-point goal to get the deficit to two with eight ticks left. WU then fouled to send Wiliams to the stripe with less than five seconds on the clock.
After missing her first shot, Williams made the second. Forced to go the length of the court for a game-tying shot, Washburn couldn’t get a good look off before the horn sounded to deny the Lady Blues a shot at their fourth tournament championship in a row.
Schumacher led a balanced Bearcat assault with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Nelson and Williams each tallied 12 points while Brue added nine points.
Stiger led all scorers with 19 points to go with five assists for WU. Holmes scored 14 — 10 in the second half — with nine rebounds while Bright had 12 of her 14 points in the final 20 minutes.
The SBU Lady Bearcats took another step toward the
MIAA Tournament Championship, by defeating Truman State, 70-65.
The Lady ‘Cats built a 19 point lead with 13:00 to play, and had to
withstand a late Truman rally to win.
SBU’s Erika Souza scored 22 points, on 8 of 15 from the field, which
included 4 successful three-pointers. Kelly Reinkemeyer added 13 points
and grabbed 6 rebounds. Rachel Graves grabbed an SBU-high 11 rebounds
and had 3 steals. Courtney Creed contributed 10 points and 8 rebounds.
"We built a nice lead when the game had a fast pace," said SBU’s head
coach, Jim Middleton. "The lead got away from us there at the end, but I
was really proud of the way we hung on. It was a typical MIAA Tournament
game. I’m just glad it’s over."
"Truman is a good team," continued Middleton. "We made a decision to
double Georgia Mueller every time she caught the ball, and she still
scored 18. She’s just a great player."
"We came here with a mission, and we’re 2/3 of the way there."
SBU shot 40.6% from the field on 28 of 69. They connected on 8 of 22
shots from long range for a rate of 36.4%. From the line, 6 of 11 for
SBU out-rebounded Truman 42-36.
The Lady Bearcats play Northwest Missouri tomorrow afternoon (Sunday,
1:00 PM) for the MIAA Tournament Championship.