Northwestern College women’s basketball team overcame an 11-1 deficit with an 87-77 victory over Saint Francis (Ind.) in the quarterfinals of the NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship on March 9.
The Red Raiders of Head Coach Chris Yaw won for the 18th straight time at Tyson Events Center-Gateway Arena in Sioux City, and the Red Raiders’ faithful could not be blamed if they asked the college’s officials to add the Sioux City venue to their campus Bultman Center as their official home.
The win pushes the Red Raiders into the March 11 semifinals, a round they have played in for six straight seasons and were 26-7 overall record going in and gave the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) another chance at a national title.
Saint Francis led 19-9 with 11:10 left in the first half but the Red Raiders gained their first lead at 26-24 on a three-point basket by Alli Dunkelberger.
Senior Kendra DeJong continued her amazing play despite an ankle injury as she finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds. Karen Hutson led the team with 22 points on the strength of 10 of 12 from the free throw line. Dunkelberger added 17 points and six rebounds.
Northwestern had a 30-19 edge in free throws as the deciding factor.
It was 36-36 at halftime as the Red Raiders erased their 10-point deficits.
Northwestern turned the halftime tie to a 14-point lead, 75-61 with three minutes left.
Mackenzie Small, a junior from Hinton, scored eight points and had three rebounds, and two assists.
Samantha Kleinsasser added eight points and 13 rebounds.
The Red Raiders’ senior class is seeking a four for four run of NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championships.
The Red Raiders won the battle of the inside area with a 46-31 rebounding lead.
Saint Francis’ Brooke Ridley shared game-high scoring honors with Hutson as she had 22 points and 11 rebounds for a double-double of statistics. The Cougars, who had made the quarterfinals with hopes of making it to Monday’s semifinals for the first time since 2006, finished with a 32-4 record.
Sixth-ranked Davenport (Mich.) awaited the Red Raiders, as they downed Eastern Oregon, 62-60, in another quarterfinal.