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Overall No. 1 Freed-Hardeman Powers Past No. 5 The Master’s

March 17, 2017
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BILLINGS, Mont. – (Box Score) Overall No. 1 seed Freed-Hardeman (Tenn) outscored No. 5 The Master’s (Calif.), 20-7, in the second quarter on the way to a second-round 79-58 victory in the 2017 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship, presented by Wells Fargo, at the Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark.

“When you make shots, it looks good,” said Freed-Hardeman Head Coach Dale Neal. “We were able to keep them off the foul line, which we weren’t able to do against Rocky. I thought they were a difficult matchup for us, but Kim (Mallory) came out and really stepped up for us.”

Freed-Hardeman’s Kim Mallory opened the game’s scoring with a 3-pointer to give the Lady Lions a quick 3-0 lead. On the very next possession, a Master’s turnover turned into two points on Taleeah Cross second-chance basket. A 14-9 Mustang run capped by an Ashley Bartow basket tied the game at 14. The teams closed the quarter exchanging and leads resulting in a 19-19 tie.

Freed-Hardeman’s Cross opened the second quarter with a second chance basket that began the domination by the Lady Lions. Freed-Hardeman was red-hot in the second quarter. As hot as the Lady Lions were, Master’s was equally as cold, scoring only seven-second quarter points. Freed-Hardeman led at the half 39-26.

The Lady Lions played the second half like they did the second quarter, controlling boards, forcing turnovers and turning those turnovers into points. Freed-Hardeman built on their double-digit lead, powered by a 68.8 percent field goal percentage in the third quarter. At the 4:26 mark of the fourth quarter, the Lady Lions led by 26 points their largest lead of the game.

The 21-point loss tied the Mustang’s worse loss of the season, 67-46, against Vanguard (Calif.) on Feb. 25. Two players scored in double figures for the Master’s, led by Hannah Forrar with 15. Bianca Cubello, the team’s leading scorer, was held to 10.

Kim Mallory led Freed-Hardeman with 28 points and 19 rebounds – her 13th double-double of the year. The 19 rebounds ties a 2017 championship single-game high, set in the first round by Cubello. Talee Cross scored 22 points with seven assists. Only one Lady Lion player did not score.

“She (Mallory) brought her game so far from last year,” said Neal. “She worked on guard skills all summer long, so that she could step out from the post. She’s strong and can defend all five positions. When you have that kind of versatility it really helps you.”

The Mustangs close their season at 23-8.

Freed-Hardeman improves to 35-0 and will now face Campbellsville (Ky.) Saturday at 4 p.m. MDT in the round of eight. The Lady Lions have reached at least the semifinals in four of the last six seasons.