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Top-Seeded Lady Lions Earn 69-62 Victory over Ravens

March 20, 2015
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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. – (Box Score) The No. 1-ranked Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) Lady Lions continued their pursuit of the programs first national title on Friday. 2014 NAIA All-American Haley Newby led the squad to a 69-62 victory over the No. 4-seed Benedictine (Kan.) Ravens in the 2015 NAIA National Championship, presented by Susan G. Komen Greater Kansas City.

The No. 1-ranked Lady Lions quickly erased any memory of their offensive struggles just 48 hours ago. Freed-Hardeman jumped all-over the Ravens in the first half as Haley Newby led the way. The 2014 NAIA All-American posted 13 points and six boards in the first 20 minutes.

The beginning of the game lived-up to the hype as the Lady Lions struck first. Taleeah Cross grabbed the first bucket of the game to make it 2-0. Shortly thereafter, Brandee Busenlehner drained her first three-pointer of the contest to make it 5-0 Freed-Hardeman.

The Ravens answered with a five-point run of their own to tie the game on the following two possessions. Jordan Kramer answered Busenlehner’s three with one of her own before Chayla Rutledge knocked-down her first two-point field goal to tie the game at five.

The back-and-forth battle continued as Jordan Kramer gave the Ravens the lead with her second three-ball of the game to make it 10-9 Benedictine. Freed-Hardeman, however, returned the favor with its first run major run of the game.

The Lady Lions went on an 18-7 run, which was capped-off with a basket by Freed-Hardeman’s Cross to give her team a 10-point, 27-17 lead.

During the half, Paige Melville collided with Taleeah Cross at the 7:15 mark after both were going after a loose ball, which caused Cross to leave the game with team medical staff. The Lady Lions’ guard did not return.

Benedictine College played a solid final 20 minutes with the Lady Lions, but were unable to erase the first-half deficit. Though the Ravens limited Freed-Hardeman to just 69 points, well below their season average, they were unable to keep-up in the rebounding category.

The Lady Lions had four players reach double-digit point totals in the game. Newby came back from a five-point performance just 48 hours ago and netted 22 points and nine rebounds. Both Grace Alonso de Armino and Brandee Busenlehner recorded double-doubles in the game as well.

Benedictine’s Kramer led the Ravens with 16 points, eight in each half. 1,000 career-point scorer Chayla Rutledge recorded 11 points and rounded-out players in double-digits.

Defense and ball possession were key in the game. Neither squad shot above 40 percent in the contest or had double-digit turnover numbers.

With the win, the Lady Lions will advance to the quarterfinals on Saturday to play the winner of No. 3-seed Montana State-Northern and No. 7-seeded Southern-New Orleans (La.). The Lady Knights picked-up their first win on Wednesday in an 84-56 upset over No. 2-seed Vanguard (Calif.).

Tip-off for the quarterfinal matchup is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. on Saturday at the Independence Event Center.

GAME NOTES
The game featured a pair of 1,000 point scorers for Benedictine (Chayla Rutledge and Jackie Ziesel) and a pair of 1,000 rebounders for Freed-Hardeman (Haley Newby and Grace Alonso de Armino)… Both Newby and Alonso de Armino have over 1,000 career rebounds and points in their careers… Benedictine is now 0-2 in program history against the Lady Lions. The last time the two met was in 2008 when Freed-Hardeman won 77-58… The Lady Lions have now won their last four times in games in the round of 16. The last time they lost in that round was in 2010 in a 59-53 loss to Azusa Pacific (Calif.)