There was a run on blue-and-gold paint in fans’ preparation for Briar Cliff University women’s basketball team’s battle with College of the Ozarks in a second round NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Tournament game.
“It was great,” said Matt Quick of the Chargers’ win that advanced them to the Elite Eight. “I have three layers of blue on. The overalls was from our sports media department and the hat was from the bookstore.”
“It was awesome,” said fellow clad in blue Kevin Canady.
The Chargers beat the runner-up from last year’s national tournament, who always have one of the larger followings from Point Lookout, MO. College of the Ozarks ended its season with a 30-5 mark.
No. 14 Briar Cliff shook off a cold-shooting first half to come back and upset No. 5 College of the Ozarks (Mo.), 80-67, in the second round of the NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship on March 8. The Chargers erased a nine-point deficit by coming out of the locker room on a roll at halftime.
However, the next round saw the Chargers fall to Indiana Wesleyan, 69-57, for a 25-10 final BCU record. Sloan Masters led the Chargers with 18 points.
On Friday, behind blue-and-gold covered home crowd, BCU came back from a 28-23 halftime deficit by tallying the first seven points of the second half. The Chargers had strong balance in their scoring, as Mattie Murren led with 17 points, Kelsey Evans added 13, Masters 12 and Sara Reeves had 10 to give BCU four double digit scorers. Murren also contributed five steals, shot three of 12 from the field and two of eight from three-point range, but was nine of 10 on made free throw attempts. The Chargers overcame the Bobcats for good on a basket by Paige Herrboldt with 16:12 remaining in the game for a 38-25 lead.
The Chargers improved their shooting percentage from 26.5 percent in the first half to 46.9 percent in the second half. They also made 23 of 29 second-half free throw attempts.
BCU held Ozarks’ offense in check all game. The Chargers held the Lady Bobcats to 31 percent shooting from the field, including only 8.3 percent from three-point range. BCU’s defense forced 24 turnovers by the Bobcats, while committing only 14 of their own.
The Bobcats out rebounded the Chargers, 49-40. Morgan Smith, an All-American center for the Ozarks, led in caroms with 10.
BCU made it to the round of eight for the second straight year and for the third time in the last four seasons under Head Coach Mike Power. The Friday win also marked BCU’s 20th win at the national tournament. The Chargers had made it to four “Fab Four” rounds but never to the title clash.
The loss brought an end to the career of College of the Ozarks’ All-American senior center Morgan Smith, who had scored 40 points in the Bobcats’ first round win over Miligan (Tenn.) on March 7, fouled out with just under five minutes left with 12 points, half of her scoring average.
Emily Walker tried to pick up the slack with Smith held to half of her season’s scoring average and had a game high 25 points, with 16 of 16 from the free-throw line.
First round BCU win
Masters had a game to remember on NAIA basketball’s biggest stage as she scored a career-high 31 points and led No. 14 Briar Cliff to a 94-77 win over No. 20 Siena Heights (Mich.) in the first round win of the NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship Tournament played March 7.
It was only the eighth time this season that Masters hit double figures and the first time she scored more than 20 points. Masters is averaging 7.2 points per game this season but over the last three games the average has skyrocketed to 19 points per game. Masters, who helped the Chargers to a 31-point advantage in reserve’ scoring, was six of 15 from the field all field goal attempts, including four of eight from three-point range. She was also 15 of 16 from the free-throw line. Evans added 18 points, while Sara Reeves and Murren had 13 and 12 points, respectively.
The rest of the Chargers lineup combined for 20 points. BCU shot 40.6 percent from the field, 31 percent from three-point range and 82.9 percent from the free-throw line.
Siena Heights, which saw its season come to a close with a 23-10 record, shot 38.4 percent from the field, 26.76 percent from three-point range and 70.8 percent from the free-throw line. Sierra Calhoun led the Heights with 25 points, while Amanda Duke had 14. The Chargers held Morgan Warfield, the nation’s three-point shooter, to only two triples and a dozen points.
The Chargers improved to 10-0 record all-time in the tournament’s first round.