By: Sam Knehans, Communications & Sports Information Intern
FRANKFORT, Ky. – (Box Score) No. 5 John Brown (Ark.) prevailed in a battle of non-conference rivals from “The Natural State,” defeating No. 4 Lyon (Ark.), 70-53, in the NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship first round at the Frankfort Convention Center Thursday night.
The Golden Eagles, who had lost their previous three national championship games by an average of 18.7 points, earned their first national championship win in a convincing manner.
John Brown senior forward Kortni Barenberg netted a 3-pointer for the first basket of the contest and the Golden Eagles never looked back. John Brown never trailed, though the contest did feature two first-half ties (20-20, 22-22) before the Golden Eagles pulled away, holding a double-digit lead throughout the second period.
Barenberg led John Brown with a game-high 21 points and team-high seven rebounds. She was joined by junior guard Lauren Rogers (19), senior guard Sierra Shipley (11) and sophomore forward Brooke Barker (10) in double-figures. Shipley, who now has 529 points on the season, continues to add to her shot clock-era program record for single-season scoring.
Freshman forward Elliot Taylor and sophomore guard Carina Jackson paced Lyon in the losing effort, with 15 points each, while sophomore forward Taylor Gaedtke grabbed a game-high nine rebounds.
The Golden Eagles shot 48.2 percent from the field (27-of-56) and made 9-of-20 3-point attempts (45.0 percent) in the win. Lyon made just 6-of-25 shots from beyond the arc (24.0 percent) but shot 39.7 percent from the field (23-58).
John Brown (Ark.) (26-7) advances to its first-ever second round and will face the winner of No. 1 Vanguard (Calif.) and No. 8 Cal State San Marcos (Calif.) at 9:45 p.m. Friday.
With the loss, Lyon is eliminated in the national championship first round for the third-straight season and ends the year with a record of 24-9.