Westminster Outlasts Faulkner, 66-60
Westminster awaits the winner of Westmont (Calif.) and Rogers State (Okla.) in the 4 p.m. quarterfinal game Saturday at the Frankfort Convention Center.
Faulkner opened the game with a 10-2 lead, including the first seven points of the game. The Eagles worked their lead to eight in the first seven minutes, taking advantage of a slow offensive start by Westminster, which shot 22.6 percent (7-of-31) in the half. Four of those seven came from behind the arc, two by Nicole Yazzie to help work the margin down to a single possession, 14-11, with nine minutes left.
Westminster continued to chip away at the Eagles' lead late in the first half, as Tia Pappas hit a 3 with five minutes left to pull within two, 18-16. The Griffins closed the gap at the free throw line, hitting 5-of-6 in the final minutes to tie the game, 23-23. Faulkner's Shannon Evans popped a 3 with 56 seconds left, but Yazzie answered with a jumper to close the half down, 26-25.
Once again, Faulkner started a half on a run, 9-2, to regain a 7-point advantage. Cydney Tibbitts helped lead the charge for the Griffins, scoring six and assisting five in an 11-4 stretch to tie it, 38-38, with 11:20 to play. Tidbitts later gave Westminster its first lead of the half with a jumper off a Yazzie assist, 42-40.
The Griffins built their lead to seven, as Tidbitts scored 11 of her 16 points during the second half. The Eagles kept fighting, taking the lead, 51-50, on a pair of free throws from Christina Hayes, but Faulkner received a blow seconds later as WBCA All-American Brittney Carter fouled out with 2:47 to play. Carter was held to only one point in the second half and finished with a double-double 10 points and 10 rebounds. The foul put Brooke Larsen on the line to knock down two shots and regain the lead. Hayes scored a basket for another brief Eagles' lead, but it was short lived. Moments later, Allie Eastman hit a 3 with 1:18 remaining to break a 55-55 tie and Westminster went on to hit 8-of-12 free throws in the final minute to seal the win.
Yazzie finished with a game-high 15 points, including 10 in the first half, while Pappas also scored double figures with 11 for Westminster.
Three Faulkner players joined Carter in double figure scoring, led by Spenser Cantrell's 11 points. Nyla Johnson had 10, as did Sonya Vuong, who had eight in the first half.
Faulkner, making its first trip to the NAIA Division I women's Basketball Championships, finishes its season with a 26-7 record. The Eagles defeated Xavier (La.), 67-63, on Thursday for their first NAIA postseason win.