SEATTLE - Led by a 14-point, 14-rebound double-double from 2012 College Sports Madness Independent Player of the Year Kacie Sowell, top-seeded Seattle U (19-11) punched its ticket to the second round of the 2012 Women's Basketball Invitational (WBI) with a 61-47 win over eighth-seeded North Dakota (21-11). The loss to the Redhawks put an abrupt end to UND's historic season and closed the book on Gene Roebuck's legendary, 25-year coaching career.
"The big picture is, we had a good season and we were a better team at the end of the year than we were in the beginning," Roebuck said. "Through the process, players got better and now they are heading into the Big Sky. They are really going to have to get into the weight room, get stronger, and then work on their game. The program is going into a conference that, from top to bottom, is going to be challenging. That's the beauty of the Big Sky."
North Dakota controlled much of the first half, leading by as much as seven points, but a few big shots, namely a banked in three-pointer by Sylvia Shephard with seven seconds remaining before the break, kept Seattle U within reach. North Dakota was also hampered by turnovers, committing a season-high 28 (16 in the second half alone), and poor shooting from outside the lane.
"You can't turn the ball over 28 times and our perimeter players can't miss shots like they did," Roebuck said. "Take away some of that stuff and it's a different ballgame."
As she has in several games prior, sophomore center Allyssa Wall dropped in the first basket of the game, and quickly helped the Sioux to an 8-2 lead. After the Redhawks put together a short 7-2 run to move within one, Wall led UND's inside game with four of its six unanswered points to push the Sioux ahead 16-9 (10:29).
Wall, a native of North Sioux City, S.D., finished with a team-high 16 points on 8-for-13 shooting from the field and notched a career-high six blocked shots.
Down on the other end, Talisa Rhea dropped in her second three-pointer of the night, sparking a 9-0 Redhawk run that would give the home team it first advantage of the night (18-16; 8:04). She finished 3-for-11 from three-point range and added a field goal to tally 11 points.
Sophomore forward Megan Lauck (Shoreview, Minn.) put an end to the run with a three of her own, but it was quickly negated as Elle Kerfoot hit from behind the arc for SU. At the 5:18 mark, the game hit its third and final tie of the night as Lauck sank a pair from the free throw line to knot it at 21-21.
Following a block by Wall, senior guard Charnise Mothershed (Phoenix, Ariz.) drove down the lane for two, regaining the lead for the Sioux with 4:33 on the clock. It was still anyone's ballgame as the teams traded baskets through the final minutes until a big shot for the Redhawks took the momentum and put it directly into the hands of the home team. With seven seconds remaining before the half, Shephard threw up a long three from the far baseline and banked it in to give SU a six-point, 33-27 halftime lead.
Shephard finished the night with 15 points, including six from three-point range, and nine rebounds (seven defensive).
Shephard's buzzer-beating shot proved to be key as Seattle U opened the second half with a big 14-7 clip to lead 47-33 with 11:05 remaining. Inside the run, Kerfoot dished out a no-look, over the shoulder pass to Shephard in the lane on transition and Daidra Brown banked in a desperation three from well beyond the arc as the shotclock neared zero.
Junior guard Carly Rothfusz (Eden Prairie, Minn.) knocked in her lone three of the night, and senior guard Charnay Mothershed (Phoenix, Ariz.) added a field goal of her own to end the run, but the Redhawks continued to push. With eight answered points, including a third three by Rhea, the Redhawks owned a 17-point lead (55-38), the largest lead of the evening for either team.
The Sioux put together seven unanswered points to pull within 10 points (55-45) inside the five minute mark, but the Redhawks responded with a pair of three-pointers to put the game away.
North Dakota shot 30.9 percent (17-for-55) from the field and made just two three-pointers while Seattle U was 24-for-70 from the field (34.3 percent) from the field and 8-for-29 (27.6 percent) from behind the arc. UND had better luck at the free throw line, finishing 11-for-14 (78.6 percent) while the Redhawks were 5-for-9 (55.6 percent).
UND lost the rebounding battle 50-39 and allowed the Redhawks to score 11 second-chance points. SU scored 25 points off of UND turnovers and 26 from inside the paint.
The Redhawks will now face Wright State on Sunday in the WBI quarterfinals.
- Go Sioux -