INDEPENDENCE, Mo – (Box Score | Bracket) Seventh-seeded Southern-New Orleans (La.) became the second team on Monday to win its first-ever game at the national championship, as the Lady Knights upset perennial powerhouse and No. 2-seed Vanguard (Calif.), 84-56, in the final day-one game of the 2015 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship, presented by Susan G. Komen Greater Kansas City.
With the win, Southern-New Orleans advances to play No. 3 Montana State-Northern Friday at 2:15 p.m. CDT. The Lady Knights entered the championship 0-2 in two previous trips and join fellow seven-seed Great Falls (Mont.) as the lowest seeds so far to punch a ticket into the round of 16.
Southern-New Orleans found its rhythm on offense early and often against the Lions. A steal and score by Marquetta Stokes gave the Lady Knights their first double-digit lead of the night 30-20 at the 8:49 mark of the first half. Vanguard pulled as close as seven points, but Southern-New Orleans quickly answered with another layup.
The trend continued in the second half, eventually reaching a 33-point spread with four minutes remaining before a couple of baskets by Vanguard cut the deficit to the final spread of 28.
The Lady Knights were led in scoring by Rayvin Miller and Marquetta Stokes. Miller tallied 23 points – 21 of which came in the first half – on 10-of-12 shooting, including a 3-for-5 effort from 3-point range. Stokes scored 21 points.
As a team, Southern-New Orleans shot 56.1 percent (37-of-66) from the floor and 40 percent (6-for-15) from beyond the arc. They also held a 38-33 advantage in rebounding and forced a season-high tying 19 turnovers.
Vanguard was led in scoring by Amber Alexander’s 24 points. She also grabbed 11 rebounds en route to her 11th double-double of the season.
The loss is the first for the Lions in the opening round of the championship since falling to Georgetown (Ky.), 70-68, in 2012. Vanguard ends the year with a 22-8 record and is now 26-16 all-time at the championship.
First round action continues at 9 a.m. CDT Thursday when No. 3 Our Lady of the Lake (Texas) takes on No. 6 Martin Methodist (Tenn.). The RedHawks are making their first-ever championship appearance.
The first 30 games of the 2015 NAIA Women’s Basketball National Championship is available live on the NAIA Network. For packages and pricing visit www.NAIANetwork.com.