By Travis Rae, Communications and Sports Information Intern
SIOUX CITY, Iowa - (Box Score) No. 6 Davenport (Mich.) needed a second half rally to defeat No. 3 Eastern Oregon, 62-60, in the first quarterfinal game of the State Farm-NAIA Division II Women's Basketball National Championship. Eastern Oregon missed a last second three at the buzzer and Panthers found themselves down 14 with 16 minutes to go in the game and game all the way back to advance to the semifinals.
"I think obviously it's special for anybody," Davenport head coach Mike Williams said of his team's semifinal appearance. "We've got a group of seniors who have kind of done whatever it takes to win. Some of them in this game weren't playing as much, but they were still into the game and rallying for their teammates."
Eastern Oregon and Davenport came out struggling to score from the field as both teams combined for 2 field goals in the first six minutes of the game. The Mountaineers scored its first bucket at the 15:45 mark in the first half off a three-pointer by Brooke Randall to take a 6-4 lead.
Davenport started to get things going after Alex Law hit back-to-back three pointers for the Panthers to extend its lead to 13-9. However, the Mountaineers answered right back with a three pointer by Kelsea Hurliman and a six-footer by Jorie Freeman to take a 14-13 lead.
The Mountaineers and the Panthers started trading buckets. With Eastern Oregon ahead by three, 22-19, Brooke Randall hit her third three-pointer of the half and was fouled on the shot. She made the three and free throw for a rare four-point play to take a 26-21 lead with just under six minutes to go in the half.
The Panthers answered right back and after a three pointer by Kayla Gross the game was tied at 26. After that Randall hit fourth three pointer of the half and a layup to put the Mountaineers ahead by five, 31-26. The Mountaineers added to the lead and took a 39-32 lead at halftime. Randall scored 18 for the Mountaineer's to lead all scorers.
The Panthers started the second half by cutting the Mountaineers lead to 39-35 after a three pointer by Leah Svcik. However, Eastern Oregon battled right back and grew their lead back up to ten at 47-37.
Davenport would not go away and at the 14:28 mark of the second half the Panthers would lock down on the defensive and get the offense going as they went on a 14 -2 run to pull all the way back and take a 53-51 lead.
After the Panthers took the lead the Mountaineers battled right back. Hurliman recorded five straight points to put Eastern Oregon back on top 56-55. However, Law answered right back for Davenport to put the Panthers ahead by one, 57-56.
Davenport continued to lead late in the contest as the Panthers were up 62-58. Hurliman cut the Panthers to two, 62-60, after hitting a spinning layup with 41 seconds left. With eight seconds to go Eastern Oregon had the ball and Randall had a wide open three that rimmed out and Davenport came away with a 62-60 win.
"They took the challenge," said Davenport Head Coach Mike Williams. "We said you're going to have to stop them because the shots weren't falling. They stepped up. We went with kind of a different lineup, a smaller lineup - a little quicker lineup. I thought that made their threes a little tougher."
Leading the Panthers was Tiesha Stokes with 15 points off the bench. Hurliman led the Mountaineers with 23 points. With the loss Eastern Oregon's 27 game winning streak is snapped.
"I couldn't be more proud of my team," Eastern Oregon head coach Anji Weissenfluh said. "They fought and they left it all out on the court. They played heavy minutes back-to-back and each one of them stepped up and did a gut check and that's all you can ask of them. And we had a chance. They executed it and ran it. Sometimes the ball doesn't go in."
The Panthers will take on the winner of Northwestern (Iowa) and Saint Francis (Ind.) game in the semifinals of the Division II Women's National Championship game. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Monday.