BILLINGS, Mont. – [BOX SCORE] Four-seed Science and Arts (Okla.) a overcame a slow start to beat five-seed and tournament host Rocky Mountain (Mont.) 59-52, in the first round of the 2018 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship presented by Wells Fargo.
Both teams took a while to shake off the jitters from playing on a national stage. Rocky led a low scoring opening frame with just 16 total points and a score of 10-6 after 10 minutes.
The offenses started to click in the second quarter, but Rocky’s clicked a little earlier and better than the Drovers. The Battlin’ Bears finished the first half making 33 percent from the field, but that was good in comparison to USAO’s 21 percent. Those few extra made shots gave RMC a 25-18 lead at intermission. There were only 16 made field goals in the first 20 minutes.
Rocky held that lead until USAO started to make a push with five minutes remaining in the third. The Drovers, led by Shaylynn Bass’ double-double, started chipping away at the deficit and took their first lead of the game with seven and half minutes remaining in the fourth. It was Bass who hit that shot to take the lead. That 2-point make was part of her 12 total points, all of which were scored in the second half.
Rocky couldn’t recover from the change in momentum, as USAO outscored the Bears by 15 in the second half. The biggest problem for the Battlin’ Bears in the second half was the same problem the Drovers had in the first, making shots. RMC went 9-37 from the floor in the final 20 minutes.
Mikayla Jones 16 points, the most of any player in the game, were not enough for the Bears, as missed opportunities and turnovers down the stretch cost Rocky a chance at advancing. The Bears shot 28 percent from the floor connecting on just 19 of 67 attempts.
Bass wasn’t the only double-digit scorer for the Drovers, with Darian Hill also scoring 12, 10 of which were in the second half. Both players also benefited from the post presence of Vivian Holcomb who finished 1 point shy of a double-double with 9 points and 11 boards.
The Drovers, who are making their third NAIA tournament appearance, will go on to face the one-seed Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) in the second round on Friday, March 26 at 12:30 p.m.