Oklahoma Baptist Narrowly Escapes Wildcats with Five-point Win
INDEPENDENCE, Mo. – (Box Score) Despite a furious second-half run by No. 7 Baker (Kan.), the Bison of Oklahoma Baptist are moving on to the second round of the 2015 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship, presented by Susan G. Komen Greater Kansas City, with a thrilling 52-47 victory inside the Independence Events Center on Thursday afternoon.
The second-seeded team has now won three times in its last four opening round appearances in the national championship. The Bison strung together well-rounded offense and smothering defense in the first half to pull out to a 26-17 first half advantage, but Baker exploded in the second half to make things interesting.
Down 18 points, 46-28, with just over eight minutes to play, a positive outcome for the Wildcats looked bleak. A fast-paced 19-4 run by Baker quickly heaved the game’s result in doubt after Macy Wallisch hit two from the charity stripe to bring her team within 50-47 with 20 seconds remaining.
Three points was as close as the Wildcats would get after missed shots and turnovers doomed Baker from having a chance to tie the game.
Oklahoma Baptist’s Elisabeth Daniels locked up the Bison victory by nailing two free throws with 11 ticks left on the clock, ultimately scoring the game’s final points.
Poor shooting spelled disaster for Baker, as the squad shot 21.1 percent from the field for the contest (15-of-71). The seven seed was only able to hit three buckets from three-point range in 25 attempts. Oklahoma Baptist faired just a bit better from the floor at 21-of-56 (37.5 percent).
Missed opportunities at the free throw line by Oklahoma Baptist (26-5) – Sooner Athletic Conference tournament runner-up – kept the Wildcats on life support. The Bison failed to seize control of the game by hitting only 8-of-17 from the line (47.1 percent).
In the low-scoring affair, Daniels led the Bison with 14 points. She was joined by Charity Fowler in double-figures with 10.
Baker earned its way into the field as an at-large selection. The Wildcats’ (21-10) 2014-15 campaign comes to a close with Caitlin Modesett finishing the season on a 14-point note. She was the only Baker athlete to have 10-or-more points on the day. Wallisch was unstoppable on the boards, as the Holton, Kan., native hit tallied 15 of her squads 48 rebounds. She also added six rejections.
Oklahoma Baptist now turns its focus to Friday, where the team will take on No. 3 Our Lady of the Lake (Texas) (27-6). The Saints are fresh of their first round win over Martin Methodist (Tenn.), 83-67.
Tomorrow’s contest is set for 4:30 p.m. CDT.
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.