The win for William Woods snaps a three-game first round losing streak for the Owls, and avenges a 2012 first round loss to Shawnee State. Additionally, the victory marks only the sixth time that a No. 8 seed has defeated a No. 1 seed since the current seeding format was implemented in 2003.
“I’m so proud of everybody that stepped on the floor tonight,” said William Woods Head Coach Dan Chapla. “They contributed in some small way. We’re playing maybe the best offensive team in the country, and they never backed down.”
The Owls came flying out of the gate to start the first quarter with a 14-4 run that spanned the opening 5:30 of the stanza. William Woods scored six of the 14 points off turnovers, including a steal and score by Peyton Greenlee to cap the stretch.
However, Shawnee State – one of the NAIA’s top scoring clubs at 89.3 points per game on average – would not be held down for long. The Bears outscored William Woods 12-2 over the course of the next three minutes before a Brandie Snow 3-pointer knotted the score at 16-16.
Each side traded baskets the rest of the way, before a foul at the buzzer put Kaycee Gerald on the line for three shots. The freshman converted all three to give the Owls a 24-22 lead at the first break.
William Woods continued its steady play into the second quarter, as the club outscored Shawnee State, 25-18, over the 10-minute stretch to take a 49-40 advantage into the break.
Turnovers keyed much of the Owls success in the first half, as the team forced nine Shawnee State miscues. Outside of a 5-1 advantage in 3-pointers by William Woods, the halftime stat sheet was nearly identical for the two clubs.
Shawnee State chipped away at the nine-point deficit throughout the third quarter, eventually pulling within two points, 64-62, when the buzzer sounded. Janessa Moore keyed the period for the Bears with a frame-high 10 points.
A Moore lay-up to open the fourth quarter tied the game for the seventh time at 64-64. However, the Owls once again immediately responded with a runner in the paint by Jasmine Brown.
From that point forward, Shawnee State would pull within one point eight times, however the Bears could never tie or take the lead.
William Woods, which scored 16.4 points more than its season average entering the championship, finished with four individuals in double figures. Brown paced the club with 24 points, followed by a 22-point effort from Kaycee Gerald. The freshman from Springfield, Mo., also had a game-high 12 rebounds, good for her second double-double of the season.
William Woods awaits the winner of No. 4 Benedictine (Kan.) and No. 5 John Brown (Ark.).
“Doesn’t matter who we have next,” added Chapla. “We’re going to play hard and do our best to keep it going.”
Despite the loss, Moore recorded arguably the best offensive performance of the tournament so far. The Cincinnati, Ohio, native registered a 2017 championship single-game high and season-best 36 points on 13-of-19 shooting and a 10-for-11 effort at the charity stripe. Moore added eight rebounds, seven of which came on the offensive end of the floor.
Prior to tonight, Shawnee State had never lost in the first round since joined Division I in 2011. The Bears, who came into the game riding a six-game winning streak, end the year with a 31-3 record.