Northwestern Repeats as National Champion

Northwestern Repeats as National Champion

SIOUX CITY, Iowa - (Box Score) (FINAL BRACKET) Northwestern (Iowa) overcame the loss of two of its starters to claim the 20th annual State Farm-NAIA Division II Women's Basketball National Championship on Tuesday at the Tyson Events Center/Gateway Arena. The Red Raiders leaned on their upperclassmen leadership of Becca Hurley, Allison Hulst and Kami Kuhlmann to power the offensive attack in the 88-83 win over Davenport (Mich.).

In the second meeting between the two, Northwestern avenged its only loss of the season to collect its fourth title under head coach Earl Woudstra. The Red Raiders, of the Great Plains Athletic Conference, finished their season with a 35-1 record and a second-consecutive national championship, becoming the fourth team to repeat. The GPAC has claimed the past 10 out of 11 Division II Women's Basketball national titles.

Davenport, who entered its first-ever title game with an undefeated record (37-0), will conclude the year with a 37-1 mark.

"We had such great fan support here," Woudstra said. "There was a time when our fans really got behind our kids and I thought that really gave us the energy to finish the game."

Rianna Hensley of Davenport kicked off the night with a steal near half court and a layup to score the first points of the game. Answering back was Northwestern's Becca Hurley with a 3-pointer to get the Red Raiders on the board. Throughout the contest there were 15 ties and 19 total lead changes.

In the Dec. 29 matchup, Davenport went into halftime with a 49-38 point lead. This time around, the Panthers went into the break with just a three-point advantage, 43-40. Leading DU on the offensive end was starting center Riana Hensley with nine points, along with Kristi Boehm and Abby Neff, who both had eight points each. The Panthers hit 41 percent of their shots and outrebounded the Red Raiders 23-16, including nine on the offensive glass.

Northwestern shot 48.4 percent from the floor in the first half with three Red Raiders scoring in double figures in the first half. Kuhlmann led the charge with 11 points. Becca Hurley and Allison Hulst added points each as the Northwestern trio scored 31 of its 40 points in the first half.

"We said if we could take care of the rebounding, we could take care of the game," Woudstra said. "We challenged the kids in the locker room and asked who can make that one play that keeps the ball alive and I couldn't be more proud of the team with the kind of effort they put forth."

The halftime talk worked as the Red Raiders pulled down 30 rebounds in the second half compared to Davenport's 13. With 10:07 remaining, the Panthers were able to push their lead to eight, 69-61, but two Mackenzie Small free-throws and two Hurley 3-point baskets later, Northwestern was back in the game with it knotted up at 69-69.

For the next seven minutes, the two teams traded baskets back-and-forth and Northwestern pulled ahead for good with 1:18 left in the game.

Hurley carried her load as a veteran leader down the stretch, scoring 11 points in the last five minutes of the game, including 9-of-10 from the free-throw line. The senior finished with a game-high 32 points, pulled down 14 rebounds and dished out seven assists. With her performance, she earned Most Valuable Player honors and also collected the NAIA Division II Player of the Year award, announced Tuesday. Hurley finished the tournament averaging 20.4 points per game, 8.8 rebounds per game and 6.2 assists per game.

The trio of Hurley, Kuhlmann and Hulst totaled 70 of Northwestern's 88 points. Kuhlmann finished the game with 21 points, seven rebounds, four assists and Hulst registered 17 points and eight boards. Mackenzie Small also reached double digits for the Red Raiders with 10 points off the bench.

Northwestern shot 44.4 percent from the floor and 85.2 percent from the charity stripe. In comparison, Davenport shot 41.4 percent for the game, but was only 68.4 percent from the foul line.

The Panthers had four players in double figures, led by Kallie Benike's 22 points and nine rebounds. Kristi Boehm added 16 points, eight assists and five steals for Davenport and earned the tournament's Hustle Award. Both Benike and Boehm were recognized on the All-Tournament First Team.

All-Tournament Team
First Team
Cara Bedard, Walsh (Ohio)
Kallie Benike, Davenport (Mich.)
Kristi Boehm, Davenport (Mich.)
Becca Hurley, Northwestern (Iowa)
Tanaeya Warden, Morningside (Iowa)

Second Team
Emily Christen, Morningside (Iowa)
Kendra De Jong, Northwestern (Iowa)
Katelynn Lamb, Black Hills State (S.D.)
Jessie Miller, Walsh (Ohio)
Aubrey Siemon, Cedarville (Ohio)

Most Valuable Player
Becca Hurley, Northwestern (Iowa)

Phyllis Holmes Coach of the Year
Earl Woudstra, Northwestern (Iowa)

Hustle Award
Kristi Boehm, Davenport (Mich.)

2011 NAIA Division II Women's Basketball Player of the Year
Becca Hurley, Northwestern (Iowa)

Championship Information

NAIA DII Women's Basketball Championship

March 11-17, 2020
Tyson Events Center 
Sioux City, Iowa