BY SARA FISHMAN
PHOTOS BY COLTON SPEARMAN
VIDEO BY AUSTIN DRUSE
In the first round of the championship, the Southwestern Moundbuilders took on the Eastern Oregon Mountaineers and defeated them 67-65. In the second round, the Moundbuilders also defeated Olivet Nazarene 112-107, breaking the championship record for the total combined points scored in a single game.
The Saint Francis Cougars’ record was 33-0 coming into the championship. In contrast, the Cougars defeated the Ashford University Saints 57-37 in the first round of the championship and Siena Heights 83-59 in the second. This is their 15th appearance here at the championship.
The Cougars took the lead early in the first half, putting the score at 14-7 with 14:17 left in the first half. With 12:49 left on the clock, a two-point-attempt was made by Jenelle Wilson, putting the score at 18-7 and increasing the lead to 11 points. With 2:58 left in the half, a defensive foul by Bri Rinehart was charged and put the score at 38-20.
“I was nervous; I didn’t want to sit on the bench. But that’s fine though, people stepped up and Kalah came in and did a really good job,” said St. Francis’ Skylarr Shurn.
Saint Francis pushed through the final minutes of the first half and kept the lead 40-20 heading into halftime. Saint Francis’ freshman 6-foot center Kalah Baer was the leading scorer with 14 points.
Five minutes into the half, St. Francis led Southwestern 55-25, putting the Moundbuilders at a 30-point deficit. The Moundbuilders continued their fast pace play, making threes and drawing some fouls, but the deficit and the Cougars’ strong play proved too strong and difficult for the Moundbuilders.
“We had a target on our back and we came out strong. Every team has a target on their back and every team is going to come out strong,” said St. Francis’ Brooke Ridley.
Saint Francis’ Baer was the lead scorer of the game with 25 points.
“I’m just excited to be moving onto the final four. We all have a glow right now and we’re just really excited to make it to the final four,” Ridley said.
Saint Francis will play in the semifinals on Monday at 6 p.m. live on ESPN3.
Catch up on previous game recaps:
Round 2: Saint Francis (Ind.) vs. Siena Heights (Mich.) – Cougars Pounce into Quarterfinals
Round 2: Southwestern (Kan.) vs. Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) – Record-Breaking Game Sends Moundbuilders to Quarterfinals
Round 1: Saint Francis (Ind.) vs. Ashford (Iowa) – No Miracle for the Saints
Round 1: Southwestern (Kan.) vs. Eastern Oregon – Southwestern Survives Late Game Scare