SIOUX CITY, Iowa – (Box Score) For the second time in two days, a No. 2 seed fell victim to a No. 7 seed in the first round of the 2015 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship, presented by State Farm. Ashford (Iowa) used a 24-2 run to begin the game to pull off the program’s first-ever national championship win and an upset of Indiana Wesleyan, 66-50, on Thursday afternoon.
Head coach Kelly Kruger’s team triumphed for the sixth-straight time to move to 25-7. On the other hand, head coach Steve Brooks’ squad ended its season at 27-6 overall. The Wildcats had entered the 2015 tournament with a record of 11-1 in first-round games.
The Saints withstood a second-half charge from Indiana Wesleyan, which roared back from a 38-19 halftime deficit. The Wildcats got within 41-34 with a 15-3 spurt to begin the second half. However, Brooks’ squad could not overcome its 33.3 percent (17-for-51) shooting and 2-for-16 effort from beyond the arc.
Ashford sophomore Sarah Vozel topped all scorers with 17 points. She went 7-for-8 from the free throw line. Junior forward Brittany Cross had a big game on the board, hauling in 16 rebounds to help the Saints to a 42-27 advantage in that category.
Indiana Wesleyan, winner of national championships in 2007 and 2013, fell to 24-11 all-time in 13 national tournament appearances. The Wildcats were led by the 13 points from Erika Isham.
Sixty-two of Ashford’s 66 points were tallied by the team’s starting five. Vozel was joined by Madison Wagner (16 points) and Quinn Rear (14 points) as Saints in double figures. Ashford shot 42.2 percent from the field.
The Saints, who will appear in the second round for the first time in program history, will take on either No. 3 Hastings (Neb.) (22-8) or No. 6 Rio Grande (Ohio) (25-7) at 5:15 p.m. CDT on Friday.