INDEPENDENCE, Mo. – (Box Score) The fourth game of the day saw top-seeded Westminster (Utah) break a 13-13 tie with No. 8 Cumberland (Tenn.) with just over eight minutes remaining in the first half and never look back.
With a 53-38 win, Westminster ups its record to 11-8 all-time in the national championship. Since losing in the opening round in 2008 to Loyola (La.), the Griffins have won seven-consecutive opening round matchups. The team is 8-1 in opening round contests as program.
The Griffins (26-2) were just too strong for the Bulldogs to handle on this afternoon. Cumberland led for 17 seconds the entire game after being ahead 11-10, and were able to overcome two early deficits in the game to even the contest.
However, an 8:30 drought from the field the rest of the first half enabled the top seed to double-up the Bulldogs at the break, 28-14, inside the Independence Events Center in Independence, Mo.
Guard Tia Pappas had a strong first 20 minutes by netting 11 points on four-of-seven shooting. Pappas was the only double-digit scorer in the first half.
The Griffin defense suffocated the Bulldog attack all afternoon, surrendering only 16.1 percent shooting on only five made field goals by the Cumberland offense. No Bulldog player made multiple shots in the first half, as Brittany Lawson had a team-high five points before intermission, including three-of-four from the free throw line.
The final 20 minutes was much of the same as the Griffins built up a 22-point lead and let off the gas, breezing their way to Friday’s second round of the 2015 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship, presented by Susan G. Komen Greater Kansas City.
Westminster had a trio of players post double-figure days – led by Amy Krommenhoek’s 15 and Shelby Ellsworth’s 12. The first-half’s leading scorer Pappas finished with 13 after only registering two points in the final half.
Amanda Hacking lead both schools with an 11-board performance.
The Griffins shot 39.2 percent from the floor, but caused the most damage from the land of plenty – nine-of-20 shots made for the top-ranked team were from three-point range.
The Bulldogs, on the other hand, were only one-of-eight from behind the arc.
Lawson led Cumberland (16-13) with nine points as the Bulldogs failed to have a player hit double-figures in their season’s final contest. With the victory, Westminster moves on to face No. 4 Westmont (Calif.) – out of the Golden State Athletic Conference – on Friday evening at 6:15 CDT.
The Warriors defeated No. 5 Lyon (Ark.), 74-63, to earn on spot in tomorrow’s action.
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.