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John Brown Outlasts Benedictine, 74-72

March 16, 2017
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BILLINGS, Mont. – (Box Score) No. 5 John Brown (Ark.) edged No. 4 Benedictine (Kan.), 74-72, in an exciting first round game of the 2017 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship, presented by Wells Fargo, at the Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark.

“I think we (John Brown and Benedictine) are so similar – there’s not a lot of difference between the two teams, so I knew it was going to be a close game,” said John Brown Head Coach Jeff Soderquist. “

Kodee Brown of John Brown hit a 3-pointer for the first points of the game, but not another point was scored by either team until the 5:14 mark of the quarter. It was another JBU 3-pointer, this one by Jana Schammel.

Benedictine’s first point of the game came on a free throw from Kristen Murphy two possessions later.

Over the rest of the quarter, the teams traded baskets and the lead. JBU’s Murphy hit a 15-footer to tie the game at 13 with 42 seconds remaining. Benedictine’s Maddie Minnaert hit layup to give the Ravens a 15-13 lead as the first quarter ended.

Benedictine’s Haylee Beard opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer, the beginning of a Raven 5-0 mini-run. The Golden Eagles’ slowly chipped away at Benedictine’s lead. JBU’s Baily Cameron scored on a layup and tied the game at 22 with 5:43 left in the first half. The half ended with John Brown leading, 30-28.

The Golden Eagles controlled the first six minutes of the third quarter. At the 3:58 mark, Benedictine’s Murphy hit a basket that ignited a 14-4 Raven run. It went from Benedictine trailing 39-48 to leading 53-52, their first lead since 6:13 in the second quarter.

The Ravens’ Kayla Staley scored the fourth quarter’s first basket, which tied the game at 55. Lead changes and ties were the order of the fourth quarter’s first five minutes. John Brown’s Cameron hit a 3-pointer with just under two minutes left in the contest, which gave the Golden Eagles a 66-64 lead and proved to be the winning basket.

John Brown held off every Benedictine charge in the game's final minutes. The Golden Eagles led by as many as five, but Benedictine could get no closer than two.

Baily Cameron of John Brown led all scorers with 27 points on 9-of-16 shooting and a 7-for-10 effort at the free throw line. The sophomore forward also posted a career-best six steals.

“She (Cameron) has been our leader the whole year,” added Soderquist. “We had a lot of people step up at key points in the game.”

Benedictine was the third of four 2016 semifinal teams to lose in this year’s first round. Only Baker (Kan.) remains in the 2017 field.

The Ravens were led by Haylee Beard with 18 points. Benedictine closes out its 2017 season with a 26-8 record.

John Brown improves to 23-8 and will face William Woods in the second round Friday at 8 p.m. MDT.