SIOUX CITY, Iowa – (Box Score) It was a game of wills between No. 3 Hastings (Neb.) and No. 6 Rio Grande (Ohio) on Wednesday evening inside the Tyson Events Center at the 2015 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship, presented by State Farm. Seven ties and six lead changes later, the Broncos were able to outlast the RedStorm, 73-64, in a hard-fought battle.
Rio Grande came out fast and held a lead for most of the first 10 minutes, getting a game-high advantage of seven points with 12:16 left in the first half. Both squads continued to give each other fits on the defensive end as points and wide-open shots were bountiful.
A deep Broncos bench was able to offset the powerful inside game of Rio Grande – Hastings led in bench points 21-8 and the RedStorm dominated on the inside, 42-18, respectively.
Four members of the three seed had 10-or-more points, led by 26 points and 10 rebounds from Jamie Van Kirk. She was joined by a trio of teammates who finished with 10 points each – Chelsey Morten, Abby Jackson and Michaela Barry.
Hastings upped its national championship opening-round record to 13-2 with the triumph, and has not tasted defeat in the first game in nine appearances (losing 85-67 to Saint Francis (Ind.) in 2005).
In a losing effort, Brianna Thomas led the RedStorm with 20 points on 7-of-23 shooting. Sarah Bonar hit the 14-point mark while Brooke Marcum was able to post a double-double in her team’s final contest with 11 points and a game-high 14 boards.
Rio Grande closes 2014-15 at 25-8. Hastings upped its record to 23-8.
The Broncos now turn their focus to late Friday afternoon, as a second round bout with seventh-seeded Ashford (Iowa) awaits at 5:15 p.m. CDT