Big Second Half Propels the Argos Into Second Round
By Scott Barker, Communications and Sports Information Intern
INDEPENDENCE, Mo. - (Box Score | Bracket) No. 5-seed Great Falls (Mont.) outscored Lyon (Ark.), 37-18, in the second half en route to a 60-50 victory to earn its second-consecutive berth into the quarterfinals of the 2016 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
“It was a special game,” said Great Falls head coach Bill Himmelberg. “We have a special group of girls. As soon as the game got tied towards the end, I knew we were going to get it. These are kind of games we’ve played in all year long. Every weekend we play games like that in the Frontier Conference and it prepared us for this. You don’t get these moments too many times in a life time. Last year was a special year, and this is a special year.”
The first half belonged to Lyon (30-4), as the Scots leaped out to a 12-3 lead with two minutes remaining in the quarter. The Argos answered with a 6-0 mini-run to cut the deficit to three at the first intermission.
The Scots used an 11-5 second quarter run, capped off by a Whitney O’Dell basket to lead by nine (32-23) at the break.
In the third period, Lyon was still in control. Jamie Jackson buried a jumper to put the Scots up 10 with 8:01 remaining in the frame. However, Great Falls began to chip away at the lead, including a Nneka Nnadi 3-pointer with 1:54 left in the period to pull the Argos to within six, 40-34.
The fourth quarter proved to be a different story for the two clubs. Erin Legel’s 3-pointer with 5:27 left tied the game at 47. Approximately three minutes later, Nnadi drained a free throw to give Great Falls its first lead since 5:33 in the first quarter, 50-49.
The Argos outscored Lyon 10-1 in the final 4:43 of the game.
“We didn’t move the ball very well in the first half, and I didn’t think we were playing our kind of game,” said Himmelberg. “In the second half we took care of the ball a lot better and moved the ball from side to side. We attacked the rim and put ourselves in a good situation to get some open looks. The girls executed what we talked about at half time perfectly.”
The Scots had won eight in-a-row and 27 of its last 28 games. Jamie Jackson – the team’s leading scorer – found herself in foul trouble and was ineffective throughout the game. Jackson, averaging 14 points per game, was held to six points on 3-of-14 shooting from the field. Taylor Grigg led the Scots with 12 points, while Carina Jackson added 10 points.
Lyon shot 30.8 percent (20-of-65) from the field for the game. The Scots, ranked No. 3 in the NAIA in 3-point field goal percentage (38.2), were limited to 21 percent from beyond the arc.
Erin Legel led the Argos with a game-high 17 points, including a 10-of-10 effort from the free throw line. Legel has a 20.8 points per game average in five career championship games. Nnadi added 16 points and eight rebounds for Great Falls.
The Argos, ranked No. 6 in the NAIA in 3-point field goal percentage (35.6), made 6-of-17 from deep (35.3 percent) for the game. Great Falls shot just 1-for-10 from distance in the first half, but drained 5-of-7 from behind the 3-point line in the second half.
Great Falls has now won nine of its last 11 games and advances to the quarterfinal round to take on Pikeville (Ky.) on Saturday at 6 p.m. CDT.