SIOUX CITY, Iowa – (Box Score) No. 4 Siena Heights (Mich.) becomes the second team of the day to punch its first-ever ticket to the second round of the 2014 NAIA Women’s Basketball National Championship with a first round victory. The Saints, who entered the championship 0-1 in one previous trip, downed Appalachian Athletic Conference regular-season champion Tennessee Wesleyan, 77-59, on Wednesday at the Tyson Events Center.
Siena Heights had four players score in double figures, led by junior forward Alexxis Knannlein’s 16 points off the bench. Senior leaders Jen Jasinski and Grace Howrigon added 14 points each in the effort, while Sierra Calhoun chipped in 13 points. Howrign also had 10 assists in the contest to record her fourth double-double of the season.
Calhoun scored the game’s opening basket to give the Saints a 2-point lead, which they would not relinquish the remainder of the contest. Siena Heights extended its advantage out to as many as 17 points in the first half, 41-24, with 2:39 left in the period on a pair of Jasinski free throws.
Siena Heights was dominant from the floor in the opening frame, shooting 57.1 percent (16-for-28) from the floor and 90 percent (9-for-10) at the free throw line.
Tennessee Wesleyan would cut the deficit to 45-37 three minutes into the second half, but failed to close the gap any further, as Siena Heights outscored the Bulldogs, 32-22, down the stretch.
For the game, Siena Heights shot 49.1 percent (26-for-53) from the field, 46.2 percent (6-for-13) from 3-point range and 70.4 percent (19-for-27) at the free throw line.
The Bulldogs were led by senior forward Cody Houck with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
With the loss, Tennessee Wesleyan closes the year with a 24-5 record.