Freed-Hardeman (33-1) represented the American Midwest Conference with its first win of the Championship despite an unusual off night offensively. The Lady Lions have averaged just under 83 points per game heading into Wednesday’s game, but despite posting a season-low 64 points, captured the win.
Cal State San Marcos (16-16) played right with the top-ranked Lady Lions in the first half. Forward Heather Thompson posted 10 of her 16 points in the first half as the Cougars shot 39 percent in the opening 20 minutes of play.
The Lady Lions, for one of the few times this season, had to regroup after leading by two points heading into halftime.
Though they shot 27 percent in the first half, the team rebounding continued to be a strong suit for the team from Henderson, Tenn. The team pulled-down 29 boards in the first 20 minutes, 14 of which were on offense.
Though the Cougars kept pace in the first half, the Lady Lions eventually pulled away in the second. Paige Melville led the team in the final 20 minutes with nine points while Haley Newby recorded eight, second-half rebounds.
Freed-Hardeman jumped-out in the final half with a 12-0 run and quickly built a 14 point lead. This run proved to be the difference.
Grace Alonso de Armino led the Lady Lions in the game. The senior recorded a 19 point, 16 rebound double-double, which was her 22nd on the year. Paige Melville finished her evening with 17 points, six assists, two steals and rounded-out the scorers in double-digits.
The Cougars boasted three players that reached double-figure point totals. Heather Thompson led the team with 16 points while Mackenzie Hartnett and Alex Alvarado combined for 23 points.
With the win, the Lady Lions will advance to play on Friday against the No. 4-seeded Benedictine College Ravens. Tip-off is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. at the Independence Event Center.
Grace Alonso de Armino’s double-double was her 22nd on the year, which will keep her ranked No. 3 in the NAIA in that category… Haley Newby recorded her lowest point total, five, on the year on Wednesday evening. She has posted double-digit point totals in 27 of her 30 games played this season… The Lady Lions extended their season-long winning streak to 33 games with the win… Cal State San Marcos dropped to 0-2 all-time in Championship play… The Cougars’ Heather Thompson will end her four-year career with 1,041 career points and 921 career rebounds