BY NIKKI SHERRILL
PHOTOS BY ALLYSON PELCHAT
VIDEO BY MCKENZIE WEDEL AND MASON LINDBLOOM
After a 2013 runner-up finish, No. 1 Davenport (Mich.) started their journey in the 2014 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship against No. 8 Ave Maria (Fla.). The Panthers got out to a 34-6 lead halfway through the first and didn’t look back as they knocked off the Gyrenes 94-40.
“We wanted to be really active defensively and moving to the basketball. We did those things well and we wanted to get the ball down the floor. I thought we did a pretty good job of moving the basketball and keeping the tempo,” said Davenport head coach Mike Williams.
Davenport was led by Alex Law who had 18 points and 4 rebounds, while Ave Maria’s Erin Murphy scored 10 of her own points to go along with 8 rebounds. The Panthers outplayed the Gyrenes in most categories, going 46 percent from the field and 34 from beyond the arc. Davenport also brought in 52 rebounds to Ave Maria’s 42 and forced the Gyrenes into 28 turnovers.
“We did a good job maintaining a level of intensity. Sometimes it’s hard when you get up that much to not let up,” said Williams.
The first half was all Davenport as they lead 59-18 as the teams went to the locker rooms. The Gyrenes were able to get some momentum heading into the break as they score 12 more points in the first half lead by Erin Murphy with 6 points and Annie Artise with 7 rebounds. The Panthers looked to their bench heavily in the first half as they helped with 35 of Davenport’s 59 first half points. Davenport was led in the first half by Alex Law who went for 15 points. The Panthers shot 50 percent from the field and went 10-24 from long range in the first half.
The Gyrenes came out stronger in the second half as they went on a 6-0 run before the Panthers were able to gather their game plan again. Both teams continued to play hard and battle for loose balls in the second half as both were able to get over 30 rebounds.
“We played a few more players and I thought that helped to keep us fresh. We could have five games in six days so we just wanted to keep players fresh,” said Williams.
Davenport, you lost last year in the final game to Indiana Wesleyan 61-43, hopes to go back to Michigan with redemption and some hardware. They could face Indiana Wesleyan in the quarterfinals on Saturday if both continue to win through the bracket.
With the win today against Ave Maria, Davenport (31-1) will take on the winner of No. 4 Purdue Calumet No. 5 Oregon Tech on Friday at 3:30 p.m. in the second round at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa. The Gyrenes end their season with a 23-11 overall record after entering the championship as the Sun Conference Tournament Champion this season.