Seventh-ranked Northwestern College defeated Saint Francis (Ind.) 87-77 in the quarterfinals of the NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Tournament in Sioux City March 9.
Three Red Raiders scored in double figures, led by Karen Hutson with 22 points. Kendra De Jong, playing once again despite an ankle injury, scored 21 points and had 13 rebounds and three assists for her 11th straight double-double statistically. Alli Dunkelberger added 17 points, including crucial three-pointers throughout the game.
Mackenzie Small, a junior from Hinton with family in Akron, scored eight points. Samantha Kliensasser also scored eight points for the Red Raiders, 26-7 record.
Things did not start well for Northwestern as they found themselves down 11-1 in the opening four minutes. Still trailing by 10, the Red Raiders got back in it with a 9-0 run to put the deficit at 22-21. Dunkelberger scored five points during that run.
Another 9-0 run gave Northwestern its first lead, 30-24, but St. Fracnsis came back for a 36-36 tie at halftime.
A three-pointer by Dunkelberger and a jumper by De Jong put Northwestern up 47-40 but the Cougars came roaring back and tied the game at 56-56. Holding on to a four-point lead, Klensasser hit two free throws and Hutson scored six pints during a critical 10-0 Northwestern run, giving the Red Raiders a 14-point cushion down the stretch and they held on to win. It was their 18th straight win at the national championship.
Northwestern shot 46 percent for the game, 71 percent from beyond the three-point arc, and made 30 of 46 free throws. The Red Raiders continued to dominate the glass, owning a 49-36 edge.
Saint Francis, of Fort Wayne, Ind., and a member of the Mid-Central College Conference, shot 38 percent for the game. Brooke Ridley led the Cougars (32-3 record) with 22 points and 11 rebounds.
NWC had a 30-19 advantage in free throws made.
After the quarterfinal round, De Jong continued as Northwestern’s leading scorer for the season, with 586 points, 17.8 points per game while Kleinsasser was next with 422 points, 12.8 points per game average; Dunkelberger had 420 points, 12.7 points per game; Hutson was next at 406 points, 12.7 points per game. Small had 230 points, 7.0 points per game average.