NWC women reach NAIA semifinals, then fall

Posted March 19, 2013 at 10:02 pm

Northwestern College, the three-time defending NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Tournament Champion, won their 17th straight game at Tyson Events Center-Gateway Arena in Sioux City with a 92-60 second round crushing of Concordia (Mich.)

The streak would reach 18 games at the Red Raiders’ home-away-from home, but this year was not meant to be a successful defense of the title as the Red Raiders were ousted by Davenport (Grand Rapids, Mich.) in their semifinal, 74-68. Davenport then lost to Indiana Wesleyan, 61-43, in the championship game March 12.

A look back at the Northwestern tournament games:

Timeouts and substitutions were anything but relaxing for the Red Raiders’ top player, senior Kendra De Jong. She scored 20 points and had 12 rebounds in 20 minutes of play despite playing on an injured ankle March 8. She received several sessions of treatment for the ankle when not playing. De Jong suffered the injury in a first round win 92-66 over Mayville State (N.D.) on March 6.

Alli Dunkelberger scored 18 points, making six of 10 all field goal attempts, three of four from three-point range. Guard Karen Hutson scored 16 points for the Red Raiders, on four of six all field goal attempts and eight for eight free throw attempts.

Mackenzie Small, a junior from Hinton and the daughter of Joel and Sandy Small and granddaughter of Jim and Edie Small of Akron, scored eight points on two of five all field goal attempts and was four for six from the free throw line.

Seventh-ranked Northwestern made 31-of-61 all field goal attempts, three of 10 from three-point range.

Northwestern led just 36-31 at halftime but got back on a roll with a 23-8 run to start the second half.

Northwestern once again moved on to the Elite Eight.

The Red Raiders made the NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Tournament semifinals for the sixth straight year, the second for Head Coach Chris Yaw.

Quarterfinal round NWC win

Northwestern overcame an 11-1 Saint Francis (Ind.) lead to win 87-77 in the quarterfinal round of the NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship on March 9. Saint Francis’ final record was 32-4.

Karen Hutson led the Red Raider with 22 points. De Jong scored 21 points and continued to overcome her ankle injury. Dunkelberger scored 18 points. Samantha Kleinsasser and Mackenzie Small had eight points each. The win was the18th straight for Northwestern at Tyson Events Center/ Gateway Arena.

The Red Raiders, three-time defending national champions, advanced to the March 11 semifinals against Davenport (Mich.), 62-60 quarterfinal round winners against Eastern Oregon. Davenport won 74-68.

Davenport’s Panthers pulled away from a halftime tie to lead by as many as 11 points in the second half and held off Northwestern by six, 74-68. Davenport clashed with Indiana Wesleyan for first non-Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) represented national title game since 2007, Indiana Wesleyan’s first national title.

The Red Raiders finished with a 26-8 record. In the last game Small had eight points and five rebounds. The Red Raiders’ seniors hopes of winning the national title each season ended as well as an 18-game Tyson Evens Center/ Gateway Arena winning streak.

Davenport was led by guard Karli Harris’s 26 points, including nine of 11 from the free-throw line; nine assists and seven steals. She started the game by crashing into press row off the opening tip and never stopped. In fact she won the tournament’s Hustle Award.

The two teams fought to a 32-all standoff in the first half.

Northwestern could not overcome 28 turnovers caused by intense Davenport defensive pressure. Northwestern shot 47 percent from the field for the game, compared to 37 percent for the winning Davenport team. A 20-4 advantage in free throws was decisive as well for Davenport. Kendra Cook and Leah Sevcik also scored nine points for second most on the team.

Dunkelberger led Northwestern with 18 points. De Jong, playing in her final storied game and staying in the game despite an ankle injury, scored 12 points and had 11 rebounds. Kleinsasser had 11 points and seven rebounds. Northwestern won the rebounding battles, 45-37.

The early going was a back-and forth contest, with De Jong giving Northwestern an early 7-4 lead and Small made it a 23-19 Northwestern ahead with 8:15 left. Kayla Gross capped a Davenport run from four pints down for a 32-29 lead, and Dunkelberger answered for Northwestern for the halftime tie.

Davenport opened up a five-point second half lead. Small made it a 43-38 Davenport lead, but the Michigan team kept increasing its margin. A free throw by Cook gave Davenport an 11-point lead, 59-48, with 9:23 left.

A three-point shot by Dunkelberger capped a Northwestern rally for a 65-63 deficit with 2:12 left. But Harris made a fast break lay-up, De Jong cut the lead to three points, 68-65 with 1:24 left, but Davenport made seven of eight free throws in the final minute to secure the win. Northwestern’s last basket was a three-pointer by Dunkelberger.

The Panthers had 10 fewer turnovers than Northwestern.

De Jong, a Unity Christian alumni from Hospers, was named NAIA Division II First Team All-Tournament.

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