SIOUX CITY, Iowa – (Box Score) For the first time in school history as an NAIA Division II institution, the Cougars of Saint Xavier (Ill.) are moving on to the quarterfinals of the NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship, presented by State Farm, by beating College of the Ozarks (Mo.) with yet another balanced offensive attack.
Cougars 87. Bobcats 80.
This 2015 edition of the championship is not only providing Saint Xavier the biggest taste of action the school has ever seen in the competition, but also a little payback to how the school got bounced a year ago by the same College of the Ozarks it just beat.
Similar to Thursday’s opening round tilt, the Cougars were an effective offensive machine. Six Saint Xavier players hit the four-point mark or higher in the first half – led by 11 from Kara Krolicki – who tallied three shots made from deep in the process.
Not to be outdone, the Bobcats also notched six players on the score sheet during the first stanza of action. Guard Kayla Kepler led the way with five makes from the charity stripe and 11 total points.
Both teams were almost identical in field goal percentage at 42.1 (16-of-38) for Saint Xavier, while College of the Ozarks was 41.9 (13-of-31). The Bobcats trailed 40-39 at halftime after Mikayla Leyden hit a go-ahead layup with five seconds remaining.
The second half was the same story, second verse for both teams. Each squad chucked up shots that went in at a high-percentage of success, which led to nine ties and 19 lead changes.
In the end, however, the Cougars held the Bobcats at arms-length when the game could have been in limbo.
Each team had five players hit double-digits in the battle. Kepler was out-front for College of the Ozarks and Morgan Stuut had yet another double-double on the year for the Cougars (21 points and 14 boards). Caitlin McMahon – who had a career-high 17 points Thursday night against Oregon Tech – set another mark with 18 points and 12 rebounds tonight.
The Bobcats’ 2014-15 season comes to a halt at 24-9. Saint Xavier turns its focus to Saturday’s confrontation with third-seeded Hastings (Neb.). Tip is set for 8 p.m., with a spot in the semifinals on the line.