INDEPENDENCE, Mo. – (Box Score) Seventh-seeded Great Falls (Mont.) punches a ticket into the quarterfinals in the program’s first-ever appearance, as the Argonauts downed No. 3 Langston (Okla.), 72-69, Friday morning in second round action at the 2015 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship, presented by Susan G. Komen Greater Kansas City.
With the win, Great Falls becomes the first championship newcomer to reach the quarterfinals since Shawnee State (Ohio) accomplished the feat in 2011. The Argonauts have a date with the winner of defending national champion Oklahoma City and No. 5 Shawnee State Saturday at 2 p.m. CDT inside the Independence Events Center.
Forward Lindsey Abramson emerged as the hero once again for Great Falls. With the game tied at 69-69, the senior from Phoenix, Ariz., found herself all alone at the top of the key with only seconds left. Abramson never hesitated, draining the game-winning 3-pointer – only her 12th triple of the season – as time expired to keep the Argonauts Cinderella run at this year’s championship alive.
Langston looked as if it was going to run away with the game from the opening tip, as seven-straight points by Lynette Holmes sparked an 18-4 run that spanned the opening 6:30 of the game. However, Great Falls found an answer for the pressure defense and it came in the form of First Team All-Frontier Conference guard Erin Legel.
The junior scored all 11 of her first half points during a four minute stretch midway through the period, including a pair of three pointers to bring the Argonauts within two, 19-17, at the 9:11 mark. Lindsey Abramson tied the score for the first time since the opening minutes about a minute later after hitting one-of-two free throw attempts.
Langston never surrendered the lead in the opening frame and took a 32-30 lead into the break of a pair of Holmes free throws.
Ten offensive rebounds and 12 second chance points were keys to Great Falls’ success in the first half. For Langston, it was turnovers. The Lions forced 10 in the opening 20 minutes.
The second half, which featured seven lead changes and five ties, was a nail-biter the entire way. Neither team had more than a five-point lead the entire period. However, Langston’s offense was cold down stretch, as the Lions hit only one field goal – a Lulu Perry runner in the lane – during the final 2:23.
Great Falls finished the game with a dominant 55-41 advantage in rebounding, including 15 offensive boards which lead to a 17-1 advantage in second half points. Overall, the Argonauts shot 36.9 percent (24-of-65) from the field and 76.9 percent (20-of-26) at the free throw line.
Abramson ended the game one-rebound shy of a double-double with 19 points and nine rebounds, including a game-high five offensive rebounds. She was 6-for-12 from the floor.
Legel led Great Falls in scoring with 21 points, while also dishing a game-best seven assists. In two games at this year’s championship, Legel is averaging 22 points and 7.5 dimes per game.
Perry led four Lions in double figures with a near season-high 21 points, with 11 of her total coming at the free throw line.
The loss ends Langston’s season in the second round for the third time in its last four trips to the national championship. The Lions, who close the season with a 28-4 record, are 6-12 all-time at the event.