BY TYLER SCHUSTER
PHOTOS BY SARAH MINDRUP
VIDEO BY ANNA LICHTI & SAM BENNETT
The Briar Cliff University Chargers dominated the Menlo College Oaks 80-61 in the first round of the NAIA DII Women’s Basketball Tournament at the Tyson Event Center in Sioux City, Iowa. Junior Jessi Corrick led the Chargers with 14 points and 10 rebounds on the day.
Briar Cliff maintained their flawless first round track record, and now hold a 12-0 all-time record in first round matchups. The Chargers entered the tournament with a 23-9 overall record, 14-6 conference record and fourth place regular season finish in the GPAC.
Menlo College entered the tournament with a 22-5 overall record and undefeated regular-season in the California Public Conference.
The first half was a battle of conflicting styles. Menlo, with their run-and-gun, perimeter-orientated offense against Briar Cliff’s half-court, interior-orientated offense.
Briar Cliff shared the wealth in the first half, with three different players coming through with sizeable offensive contributions. Freshman Julie Targy led the charge with 10 points and two steals, while senior standout Slone Masters added nine points, two assists and two rebounds of her own. Corrick also helped shoulder the load, finishing with eight points and four rebounds in the half.
Menlo didn’t put up the offensive numbers they’re accustomed to, with senior Laurel Donnenwirth being held to zero points and only two rebounds in less than seven minutes of first half action. Junior guard Vanessa D’Amico picked up the slack for the Oaks, leading the team with 11 points, two rebounds and one assist in the half.
At halftime, Briar Cliff sat on a 10-point lead, leading by a score of 42-32.
Briar Cliff’s unselfish offensive game plan continued to flourish in the second half as they built upon their lead. They finished the game with four different players in double figures.
Donnenwirth got it going in the second half for the Oaks and finished with six points and eight rebounds. Junior Jacki Bateman dropped 11 points and six rebounds, while D’Amico finished the game with a team-high 14 points.
Briar Cliff’s unselfish play on offense and their ability to adjust defensively was ultimately the decisive factor. Briar Cliff Head Coach Mike Power credits their rigorous GPAC schedule with giving his team the ability to adjust to different of types of offenses.
“In the GPAC we run into a lot of different types of teams, so we have to be ready for different teams,” Power said. “We just felt like if we could buckle down, keep them from penetrating and hitting gaps and make them a three-point shooting team, we’d be alright.”
Along with Corrick’s 14 points, Masters finished with 14 points, six rebounds and two assists for the Chargers. Targy also finished with 12 points, four rebounds and four assists of her own.
With the win, Briar Cliff moves on to the second round where they’ll play the winner of the No. 2 Davenport and No. 8 Clarke (Iowa) game this Friday at 10:15 a.m.