No. 7 College of the Ozarks became the lowest seed to ever reach the NAIA Division II women’s national championship game since 2003, as the Bobcats knocked off top-seeded Davenport (Mich.), 75-72, in the semifinals. The victory is the fourth-straight for College of the Ozarks in this tournament since losing in the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament semifinals on March 1.
College of the Ozarks is making its NAIA record 20th appearance in the national championship, and fifth appearance in the title game.
The Bobcats will play No. 1 Saint Francis (Ind.) on Tuesday, (March 18). Tip off is scheduled for 7:02 p.m. and the game will be broadcast live on ESPN3.com.
The game came down to the final two minutes and change. A pair of free throws gave Davenport a 70-67, but College of Ozarks sophomore forward Brandy Uchtman nailed a three-pointer at the top of the key. The Panthers regained the lead moments later on a Kelly Dineen jumper in the lane, 72-70.
Then, freshman guard Alice Heinzler, a Republic, Mo., hit a three-pointer to give College of the Ozarks a 73-72 lead with 12 seconds left on the clock.
Davenports attempt to tie fell off the mark and the Bobcats sealed the victory with a pair of Emily Walker free throws.
Heinzler lead all scorers with a career-high 27 points on 7-for-14 shooting. She was also 5-for-8 from beyond the arch and 8-for-8 at the free throw line. Joining Heinzler in double figures for College of the Ozarks was Kayla Kepler with 14 points and Uchtman with 13 points.
“My kids have tremendous heart,” said College of the Ozarks head coach Becky Vest. “They’ve worked all year for this. They went through two-a-days in the fall for moments like these. They went through tough practices for moments like these. It was just a tremendous team effort.”
The Bobcats snapped the Panthers 29-game winning streak, which was second to only unbeaten Saint Francis’ (Ind.) 37-game streak, the opponent for tonight.