BY NIKKI SHERILL
PHOTOS BY ALLYSON PELCHAT
VIDEO BY MASON LINDBLOOM
The final No. 1 seed to play in the second round of the 2014 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Champion on Friday, Jamestown, was put to the test early by No. 5 Cardinal Stritch. In the end, the top seeded team fell to Cardinal Stritch 76-54.
After leading by five at halftime, Cardinal Stritch got on the board first in the second half, quickly extending their lead to nine. Cardinal Stritch was able to out-rebound the Jimmies 46-32 in the game, which gave them a leg up on the No. 1 seed. Michelle Piepenburg led all scorers in the game with 21 and 14 rebounds, while Hannah Steele on the other side brought in 11 of her own points to help lead Jamestown. Both teams had strong shooting percentages in the game with Cardinal Stritch going for 82 percent and Jamestown converting on 62 percent of their shots. Ultimately, the offensive and defense for Cardinal Stritch prevailed to give them the victory and advancement in the national championship.
“We knew that they had a a lot of balance and had many shooters. We were easily the smaller team in the game so we didn’t want to give up a large number of threes. We mixed in some zones and man defense which kept them off balance,” said Cardinal Stritch head coach John Pfaffl.
Quickly after the small lead Cardinal Stritch had, they extended it even more as Jamestown seemed to give up as the game went on. Cardinal Stritch worked the outside to try and killed time, then would drive it in as the shot clock wound down. A big benefit for Cardinal Stritch was their shooting, especially from long range as they would go 36 percent from beyond the arc. Late in the second half, Cardinal Stritch was able to get as big of a lead as 19 points to help excel the victory.
“I think we were able to get some fast break-ups which we don’t usually get and we got some steals and it all really came together to separate us in the second half,” said Pfaffl.
The first half was led by Michelle Piepenburg from Cardinal Stritch with 9 points and 8 rebounds. On the other side of the ball, Jessica Buck led the Jimmies with 6 points and 4 rebounds. Shooting 76 percent from the field, Cardinal Stritch was able to take the lead into halftime 33-26, after the Jimmies shot 83 percent.
“I really wanted to keep doing the things we were doing well and keep blocking out rebounds and that was a big thing we talked about at halftime,” said Pfaffl.
This victory guaranteed Cardinal Stritch a spot in the quarterfinals on Saturday against the winner of No. 2 Morningside and No. 3 College of Saint Mary at 8 p.m.
Catch up on Round 1 results:
Cardinal Stritch (Wis.) vs. St. Ambrose (Iowa) – Cardinal Stritch Pulls Ahead to Second Round
Jamestown (N.D.) vs. Roosevelt (Ill.) – Jamestown Defeats Roosevelt, Sends Lakers Home