SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The Concordia University women's basketball team (25-8) wins the NSIC/Sanford Health Tournament and earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament with a 54-36 win over #19 Northern State (24-6) on Tuesday night. This marks the fourth time that the Golden Bears have claimed their fourth NSIC Tournament championship in 11 trips.
Suffocating defense was the story for the Golden Bears in the final as they held the Wolves to just 25.0% (14-56) from the floor while also forcing 14 turnovers. The 36 points scored by Northern State was by the far the season low for the top seed out of the North. NSU also went just 4-17 from beyond the arc and 4-10 from the free throw line.
Concordia rode some hot shooting in the first half along with the solid effort on the defensive end to build and maintain a lead for much of the evening. CU shot 44.4% (12-27) from the floor in the first half and 37.9% (22-58) for the game.
As was the case the last two nights, the Golden Bears took care of the basketball and committed only seven turnovers in the game.
CU dominated play down low and held a 24-10 advantage in points in the paint for the night.
Three members of the Golden Bears were named to the All-Tournament Team as Anika Whiting and Ameshia Kearney were picked while Rachel Hansen was named the Tournament MVP.
Kearney led the Golden Bears in scoring on the night with 17 points on 7-12 from the floor and 3-6 from three. She averaged 19.0 points per game for the tournament.
Whiting just missed a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds. The Wolves made a point of keeping the team's leading scorer out of the scorebook as she hit 3-9 from the floor. She finished the tournament with 16.0 points and 10.0 rebounds per game.
Hansen capped off her stellar performance throughout the tournament with 10 points and nine rebounds. She averaged 15.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists in the four games.
Rachel Krogman, another selection to the All-Tournament Team, led NSU with 12 points and eight boards on 6-11 shooting.
She was joined in double digits scoring with Paige Waytashek, who had 10 points.
It was a game of runs in the opening minutes as the lead changed hands four times before the midway point of the first half. Northern State held a slim 12-11 lead with just under ten minutes to play, but the Golden Bears took control with a 7-0 run to grab an 18-12 lead. After a free throw and a layup for NSU's Krogman, Concordia continued their run with ten straight points to build a 28-15 lead going into the break. All in all it ended up being a 17-3 run to close out the half as the Golden Bears took control.
Kearney poured in a game-high 10 points as she knocked down four of her six shots in the opening 20 minutes. Hansen chipped in nine points and three boards.
Krogman started off strong for the Wolves with eight points and five rebounds, but NSU was held to just 22.2% from the floor as a team going into the break.
Concordia carried their stifling defensive effort into the second half as they continued to grow their lead. The Wolves had the deficit down to 12 with 11:15 to play but they wouldn't get any closer. A 7-0 run for the Golden Bears extended the lead out to 19 and from there Concordia cruised to victory and assured a spot the NCAA Central Region Tournament.
The Golden Bears, who came into the tournament in the eighth spot in the Central Region poll, assured their spot in the NCAA Tournament with the win. The selection show will take place next Sunday night at 9:00 p.m. It can be viewed at the link provided at the top of the page.
The NCAA Central Region Tournament is set to begin next week. The tournament will be hosted by the top seed in the region.
Along with the three Golden Bears and Krogman, Ali Wilkinson of Minnesota State was named to the All-Tournament squad.
Courtesy: Concordia-St. Paul Patrick Rydeen