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LWC Women's Basketball moves into NAIA Quarterfinals

Blue Raider Women's Basketball posts 89-72 win over Central Methodist.
2017-18 NAIA Tournament Brackets

Next: Lindsey Wilson Women's Basketball faces Oklahoma City, at 3pmCT, Saturday, March 18, 2017, at Rimrock Metrapark Arena, 308 6th Ave N, Billings, MT 59101

By Charles Balcom, Assistant LWC Sports Information Director

BILLINGS, MT (Fri 17 Mar 2017) - The Lindsey Wilson women's basketball team advanced to their second-straight NAIA National Quarterfinals on Friday after downing Central Methodist (MO) 89-72 in a second round matchup at the 2017 NAIA Division I Women's Basketball National Championship.

The top-seeded Blue Raiders (32-2) now face second-seeded Oklahoma City, who escaped with a buzzer-beating win over sixth-seeded Montana Western, on Saturday at 3pmCT in the round of eight. It marks the second-straight season and second time in program history Lindsey Wilson has reached the national quarterfinals.

Central Methodist, the No. 5 seed in the Cramer Bracket, ends their season with a 24-10 record.

"I was proud of our effort today against a very good team," said head coach John B. Wethington. "We keep telling our team that all of these teams are good and they are going to make runs at you and you just have to stay the course and trust in one another.

"We played timid in the first five minutes but after we settled in, I thought we played pretty well. I thought our pressure really bothered them, but Coach (Mike) Davis is a terrific coach and once they beat our pressure they were tough to handle.

"We made some good adjustments at the half against their defense and I was particularly happy with the way Kayla Styles and Chanel Roberts found the gaps in their defense in the second half," Wethington said. "Teanna Curry was huge for us in the first half. I thought she was the catalyst for us in the first 20 minutes."

The contest was heavily decided based on the turnover battle as the stingy Blue Raider defense forced the Eagles into 24 turnovers in the game, while LWC committed a season-low four turnovers, all of which came in the first half. Lindsey Wilson turned those Eagle turnovers into 32 points. Central Methodist also packed the paint defensively, but Lindsey Wilson was able to answer with some key mid-range jumpers as they outscored the Eagles in all four quarters.

Central Methodist held the shooting advantage, hitting 51.1 percent with 7-of-15 makes from beyond the arc compared to the Blue Raiders' 41.1 percent from the floor and 6-of-20 effort from three. Lindsey Wilson fired up 26 more shot attempts in the game, finishing with 73 total. LWC also hit 23-of-27 attempts from the free throw line to go along with 17 offensive rebounds that turned into 20 second-chance points.

Styles matched a career high with 30 points to go along with 11 rebounds, her 18th double-double of the season. She went perfect from the free throw stripe, hitting all 17 of her attempts for a new career high while adding three blocks and three steals. Curry provided a spark in the first half for the Blue Raiders as she matched a season high with 16 points. Roberts also finished with 16 points, 12 of which came in the second half.

It was another slow start to the game for Lindsey Wilson as the Blue Raiders shot 2-for-10 from the floor, both baskets coming from Curry. Conversely, Central Methodist hit 5-of-8 shots to start the contest to open a 13-4 lead at the 4:31 mark of the first quarter. Lindsey Wilson got on a short roll, scoring eight-straight points to cut the lead to one at 13-12.

Following an Eagle three pointer, the Blue Raiders scored seven-straight points to take a 19-16 lead, a lead that LWC would hold the remainder of the game. By the end of the first quarter, Lindsey Wilson led 21-20 and Central Methodist already had eight turnovers.

The Blue Raiders began adding to their lead in the second quarter, scoring five straight thanks to a J'Nayah Hall three pointer and a block and fast-break layup by Styles to make it 26-20. Central Methodist tried to retake the lead, but the Blue Raider defense held strong, including forcing a turnover on three-straight possessions.

Following another Eagle turnover with four seconds to play in the half, Curry took the inbounds pass and drove to the three-point line before banking in a running three pointer to give the Blue Raiders a 38-31 halftime lead.

Central Methodist outshot Lindsey Wilson 54.5 percent to 37.8 percent, but 16 Eagle turnovers helped keep LWC ahead

A turnover to start the third quarter and an old-fashioned three-point play by Roberts pushed the lead to 41-31, hitting double digits for the first time in the game. The lead fluctuated between 8-10 points then next few possessions before a Kayla Richardson three made it 48-37 with 7:14 to play in the third. Central Methodist continued to hang around and cut it down to a four-point deficit at the 4:36 mark, but an eight-point surge put LWC on top 60-48 following an offensive rebound and putback by Roberts at the 2:24 mark.

The Blue Raiders extended that lead to 13 late in the quarter on a great hustle play. Roberts made a leaping save on a ball headed out of bounds and fired it back through the middle to Richardson who nailed a mid-range jumper to give LWC a 64-51 lead heading to the fourth.

Lindsey Wilson continued to stretch that lead in the fourth quarter, making defensive stops and hitting shots inside the paint as the CMU defense was forced to open up. The Blue Raiders pushed its lead to as many as 19 twice in the quarter, the largest lead of the game, before coming away with the 89-72 victory.

DaJonee Hale led the Eagles with 26 points in the loss. Lexie Moe and Jerica Nelson finished with 16 and 14 points, respectively.

"We are excited for the opportunity to advance in this tournament," Wethington said. "There are so many great teams out here and to advance to our second straight quarterfinals is special for our program."

This story was posted on 2017-03-17 14:15:03
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