Overtime Thriller Sends Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) to Semifinals
BILLINGS, Mont. – [BOX SCORE] One-seed Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) came back from down 12 in the fourth quarter to force overtime and eventually win 82-74 over two-seed Central Methodist (Mo.) in the quarterfinals of the 2018 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Championships presented by Wells Fargo.
With less than seven minutes to go in regulation, CMU held a 10 point lead and senior guard DaJonee Hale was scoring at will. Then it looked like the weight of playing almost the full 40 minutes of three games in four days started to sink in.
As Central Methodist’s best player started to tire, FHU’s top two players, Sandrea Sylman and Kim Mallory, went to work. They led a 14-4 run over the next six minutes and with 39 seconds to go, Mallory tied the game with a layup in the paint.
"When we don't hit three's well, we struggle, and we were really struggling, so we tried to open it up and go one on one on the post and that was pretty effective for a while,” said FHU Head Coach Dale Neal. "We've been down in games before, but there is never any panic. We just stay in the game until the final buzzer."
The game was packed with impressive individual performances, including four players with 19 points or more and three double-doubles. CMU's Hale led all scorers with 29 points, followed by FHU's Mallory with 23.
Mallory was also posted a double-double and pulled down 11 rebounds. Her teammate, Tiffany Pate had 12 points and 16 rebounds while CMU’s Brandi Henton had 19 points and 11 boards.
Both in the fourth quarter and overtime the experience of the Lions showed through. The team was playing in its 12th NAIA quarterfinal, the fifth time in six years. Meanwhile, Central Methodist was playing in the quarterfinals for the first time in program history.
The Lions move on to the semifinals for the fourth time in the last six years. They have never won it all. That quest for the elusive title will continue against four-seed Montana Western on Monday, March 19 at 6:00 p.m.