SIOUX CITY, Iowa – (Box Score) Marian’s (Ind.) run to their third championship in as many years was almost upended by St. Thomas (Fla.) in the opening round of Cramer Bracket play in the 2018 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship tournament. The Knights made 13 of 14 free throws in the second half, including 7 of 8 in the waning minutes to secure their passage into the second round.
- The matchup of the No. 2 and 7 seeds in the Cramer Bracket started out red hot. St. Thomas started out the game by taking the early lead into the first quarter 13-11. The lead changed six times and was tied three times in just the first 10 minutes of the game.
- The second quarter proved to be even closer, as the lead swayed back and forth a total of eight times with another three ties. Marian outscored the Bobcats 17-16 to bring the halftime score to a one-point St. Thomas lead.
- Marian’s season point leader continued to dominate in the first half, leading the game with 13 points. The St. Thomas season point leader showed herself as well, totaling nine points in the first half, which led the Bobcats.
- Marian however, controlled the third quarter. The Knights commanded a 6 point lead, outscoring the Bobcats 19-12. The knights boosted their shooting by knocking down 7 of 15 shots in the third. The Knights led 47-41 going into the final quarter.
- But the Bobcats would not quit. The deficit was cut to just one point with 1:56 remaining in the game. The Bobcats regained the lead for the first time since the second quarter on a floater by Keiana Brooks to go ahead 62-61. However, two free throws for Marian recaptured the lead for the Knights. The Knights consistency at the free throw line in the end of the game provided them a 70-66 victory over the Bobcats.
- The two senior guards for the Knights plaued huge roles in securing the win, with Kirkhoff scoring 19 and Soeiro dropping 13 wth seven assists.
- The Knights improve to 12-2 all-time in national tournament play and will take on Hastings (Neb.) on Friday, March 9th at 7:00 P.M.