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Vanguard Downs Southern Poly, 82-76

March 13, 2013
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FRANKFORT, Ky. - (Box Score) Vanguard (Calif.) held off a late rally by Southern Poly (Ga.), for a 82-76 victory in the first evening session game at 2013 NAIA Division I Women's Basketball National Championship at the Frankfort Convention Center. With the win, the Lions snap a two-year, first round losing streak in the national championships, advancing to the second round for the 11th time in program history and await the winner of MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) and William Woods (Mo.).

Four of Vanguard's starters scored in double figures, led by a 50 percent (10-of-20) performance by Nicole Ballestero, who led the Lions (24-3) with 26 points. Esther Timmermans followed with her sixth double-double of the season, 16 points and 14 rebounds, while senior transfer Alison Drennan had her third double-double with a season-high 14 points and 16 rebounds. Maree Drennan added 13 points.

Southern Polytechnic scored first on a basket by Sarah Ogoke, but Vanguard quickly flipped the score en route to a near gridlock of a first half. The two teams knotted the score eight times in the opening eight minutes of play and finished the half with nine lead changes. The final change came with 6:39 remaining in the period on a Timmermans basket to give Vanguard a 23-22 lead. The Lions worked the lead to seven, 32-24, before closing the first half up five, 33-28.

The Lions used a steady flow of offense to stretch their lead to double figures, 41-31, within the first three minutes of the second half. It remained that way for most of the next 10 minutes until Ogoke hit a 3-pointer with four minutes left to pull Southern Poly back within single digits.

Vanguard managed to hold off the Hornets by keeping a 6-to-8-point lead, but Ashlie Billingslea hit a 3 with 1:27 remaining and another jumper with just under a minute to play to cut it to three, 77-74. She finished the night with five 3-pointers and a game-high 28 points.

Ogoke followed Billingslea's lead for the Hornets with 25 points, including four 3-pointers, and added 12 rebounds for a double-double. Arnissa Galloway also scored in double figures with 11 points and Erica Turner had 10 boards.

The Lions hit 5-of-6 free throws in the final 25 seconds to seal victory.

Both teams shot 50 percent or better from beyond the arc, as Southern Poly hit 11-of-21 (.524) in the game and Vanguard was 4-of-8. The Lions shot 51.6 percent total from the field (33-of-64), while holding SPSU to 35.1 percent.

Southern Polytechnic State finishes the season with a 25-6 record, improving from 6-24 a year ago.

Vanguard's second round game is scheduled to tip at 4:30 p.m. EDT on Friday.

NAIA Division I Women's Basketball National Championship Bracket Announcement