BY ALLEN HAMIL
PHOTOS BY LAURA BERNERO
In the first semi-final game, a pair of No. 2 seeds, Northwestern and Davenport met up to see who would move on to the championship game. This semi-final game was a rematch of the 2011 championship game where the Red Raiders won by a final of 88-83. The outcome of this game differed from that game, with Davenport advancing to the championship by a final score of 74-68.
The two teams played an evenly matched first few minutes when an 8-2 run by Davenport forced Northwestern Head Coach, Chris Yaw to call a timeout with just over 14 minutes left in the first half and the score at 12-9 in favor of the Panthers. The two teams continued to keep the game close throughout the first half with five ties and five lead changes in the first 20 minutes of action. The score was all tied up at 32 at halftime after Northwestern’s guard, Alli Dunkelberger drained a three-pointer with 12 seconds left before the buzzer.
“Whoever was going to beat De Jong has to stay on top and not ever go to the basket,” said Mike Williams, Davenport head coach. “The second thing we did was just stay in front of her.”
12 turnovers by the Red Raiders allowed Davenport to keep up as the Panthers were out-shot 50% to 33% in the first half. The Panthers held Northwestern’s, Kendra De Jong to just six points on three of eight shooting, but Dunkelberger picked up some of the slack as she scored 10 points. Davenport guard, Karli Harris led the Panthers in the first half with 13 points.
“We put in so much hard work since the end last year when we got upset, to come back and really prove to our selves that we belong out here with all the other teams,” said Harris.
Davenport slowly started to build up a lead in the second half as they eclipsed their largest lead up to that point as Davenport Panther, Leah Sevcik drained a three-pointer with 12:02 left in the game to give the Panthers a 50-44 advantage.
After getting up by as many as 11, Northwestern went on a 6-0 run to put the score at 59-54 with just over seven minutes to play. The Red Raiders continued to work their way even closer pulling within two at 65-63 with 2:11 left to play as Dunkelberger nailed a three-pointer.
With 90 seconds left, Harris stole the ball, went for the layup and got the hoop and the harm. With the free-throw the Panthers pulled it back to 68-63, but De Jong’s layup at the other end pulled it back to within a possession.
A foul and a pair of free throws by Davenport guard, Kayla Gross put the game at 70-65. Losing possession of the ball, Northwestern was forced to foul and the Panthers put away the game. Even though Dunkelberger tried to keep Northwestern in the game by hitting another three with 15 seconds left, it was not enough as the Panthers of Davenport closed out with a 74-68 win.