Benedictine, which is now scheduled to play at 12:30 p.m. CDT on Friday, awaits the winner of overall No. 1 seed Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) and No. 8 Cal State San Marcos. The Ravens are now 5-2 all-time in women’s basketball national championship first round action, including three wins while a member of Division II.
The two teams traded baskets over the course of the opening 10 minutes until Benedictine rattled off a 13-2 run to take a 36-26 lead with 4:15 left in the frame. The run was capped by a layup and free throw by Kristen Murphy – three of her seven points off the bench.
However, the lead would be short lived, as Wiley answered with a matching 13-2 run to take a 39-38 lead into the break. The deficit was the first time Benedictine had trailed at the half since falling behind Heart of America Athletic Conference rival MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) on Feb. 14.
In the second half, Benedictine stretched its lead to as many as 10 points four times in the second half, however each time the run was answered by Wiley.
A corner 3-pointer by the Raven’s Ali Taff – her only long range make in the game – appeared to be the dagger, giving Benedictine a 79-73 lead with 26 second remaining in regulation. However, Kayla Brown for Wiley banked in a 3-pointer of her own the pull the contest back within three and led the Wildcats to foul to attempt to keep the game alive. The Ravens were ready and converted all four free throw attempts to close the game.
Point in the paint were key for both teams, as the two sides combined for 112 points in the paint with 62 by Wiley and 50 from Benedictine.
As a team, Benedictine shot 50 percent (31-of-62) from the field for the game, including 57.7 percent (15-for-26) in the second half.
Chayla Rutledge led Benedictine with 17 points, 11 coming in the second half. She has now been in double figures in 16 of her last 17 games. Other notable scorers for the Ravens were Jackie Ziesel and Jayde Reid, who both finished with 14 points.
Wiley was dominant on the glass in the game, outrebounding Benedictine 45-36, including 21 offensive boards.
Four different Wildcats ended the game in double figures.
Wiley, which reached the semifinals a season ago, ends the year with a 22-5 record and falls to 4-4 all-time at the national championship
Every game of the 2015 NAIA Women’s Basketball National Championship is available live on the NAIA Network. For packages and pricing visit www.NAIANetwork.com.
Benedictine’s Chayla Rutledge has scored in double-digits in 16 of her last 17 games …Win improves the Ravens to 4-7 this season while trailing at the half … Since the start of the 2011-12 season – the beginning of head coach Courtney Garrett-Pruitt’s tenure – the Wildcats are 20-2 coming off a loss … There were a combined 112 points scored in the paint, including 62 from Wiley and 50 by Benedictine