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Hastings Finds Just Enough Offense to Slide Past Ashford

March 13, 2015
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SIOUX CITY, Iowa – (Box Score) In a defensive slugfest common to the 2015 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship, presented by State Farm, third-seeded Hastings (Neb.) grinded out a 48-37 victory over seventh-seeded Ashford (Iowa) in a Friday evening second-round matchup. The Saints were coming off their first-ever national championship victory – an upset of second-seeded Indiana Wesleyan on Thursday night.

Hastings (24-8) moves on to the quarterfinals for the second time under head coach Carrie Hofstetter. Kelly Kruger’s squad ends the campaign with a record of 25-8.

With Bronco first-team all-conference star Jamie Van Kirk struggling with her shot (2-for-19 from the field), Hastings turned to Michaela Barry for offense. The sophomore guard poured in a game high 17 points, including several crucial buckets down the stretch.

The Broncos went nuts from 3-point land midway through the second half when they drilled long-range shots on three of four possessions as part of an 11-2 run the put Hastings up 39-31 with 10:37 left in the game. The Broncos did not score again until Barry surfaced with her fourth trey of the game at the 2:58 mark, lifting the advantage back to five (42-37).

Both teams shot less than 30 percent from the field. A big disparity showed up in 3-point shooting. Hastings knocked down six from long range while Ashford misfired on all 18 attempts from beyond the arc. Individually, Barry was the star of the night. She totaled a game high 17 points and led the 9-0 Hastings run to end the contest.

Ashford, which went through several prolonged droughts, did not register a single point over the game’s final six-and-a-half minutes. The Saints got 13 points and nine rebounds from Brittany Cross while Madison Wagner recorded a double-double (10 points and 10 rebounds).

For Hastings, Abby Jackson (10 points) was the only double-figure scorer other than Barry. Van Kirk, who averaged nearly 20 points per game coming into the tournament, finished with six points.

Hastings scored the first six points of the game and held Ashford without a point for more than six minutes following the opening tip. The contest marked a complete reversal of the Saints’ first-round upset of sixth-ranked Indiana Wesleyan when they raced out to a 24-2 lead.

The Broncos now look forward to their quarterfinal matchup with either No. 1-seeded Saint Xavier (Ill.) (30-3) or fourth-seeded College of the Ozarks (Mo.) (24-8) at 8 p.m. CDT on Saturday.