INDEPENDENCE, Mo. – (Box Score) No. 3 Our Lady of the Lake (Texas) punched its ticket into the second round for a second-consecutive season Thursday morning with an 83-67 win against Martin Methodist (Tenn.) at the 2015 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship, presented by Susan G. Komen Greater Kansas City. The 35th annual event is taking place at the Independence Events Center.
With the victory, Our Lady of the Lake (27-6) advances to play the winner of No. 7 Baker (Kan.) and No. 2 Oklahoma Baptist Friday at 4:30 p.m. CDT. The Saints have now won 11 of their last 12 games, with their only loss coming against Langston (Okla.) in the Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC) tournament final. Our Lady of the Lake is 2-2 all-time in the first round of the NAIA championship.
Despite both teams finishing the opening period shooting around 32 percent from the field, the first half was won by Our Lady of the Lake. The Saints took their first lead of the half, 20-19, on a Courtney Bayliss free throw at the 11:18 mark. The basket gave Our Lady of the Lake the momentum, as the Saints would outscore Martin Methodist 23-10 over the course of the final 11 minutes to take a 42-31 advantage into the break.
Points in the paint and turnovers were key to the Saints first-half success. Our Lady of the Lake’s pressure defense forced 12 RedHawk turnovers, many of which led to transition baskets for the Saints. Martin Methodist ended the game with 20 total turnovers
Our Lady of the Lake scored 29 of its 42 points in the paint.
Guard Taylor Hamilton was the catalyst for Our Lady of the Lake during the opening 20 minutes. The Fairfield, Calif., native scored 14 points, while also grabbing a then-game-high four steals. Hamilton entered the championship averaging only 5.6 points per game in her last five games.
Bayliss, a two-time All-RRAC first teamer, also poured in 11 points in the frame. The effort marks the 18th-consecutive double-digit scoring effort by the senior.
Martin Methodist pulled as close as five, 54-49, midway through the second half on a pair of Kyoko Wade free throws, however it proved not enough, as six-straight points by the Saints made it a double-digit deficit once again. Our Lady of the Lake maintained a double figure margin for the remainder of the way.
Hamilton led all scorers with 22 points – one point shy of her season-high. She also paced the squad with seven assists and seven steals. Bayliss was next in line for Our Lady of the Lake with 18 points.
Martin Methodist’s Kelsey Nowlin led the RedHawks with 20 points, while Nina Mills added 13 points and Janasia Williams added 11 points, respectively.
The RedHawks end the year with a 25-8 record. The 25 wins are a program-best. Martin Methodist was appearing in its first-ever national championship.
The first 30 games of the 2015 NAIA Women’s Basketball National Championship is available live on the NAIA Network. For packages and pricing visit www.NAIANetwork.com.