Second-seeded Trevecca Nazarene University (Tenn.) broke a 55-55 tie with a pair of Mariska Reed free throws with 18.7 second left to edge third-seeded Carroll College (Mont.) 57-55 to kick off the second round of the 27th Annual NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship at Oman Arena.
Trevecca coach Gary Van Atta is hoping for a lot of purple in Jackson on Saturday. “We had some difficult times for our fans and students to get to the games here in the first two rounds, but with a Saturday afternoon game and less than a two hour drive we are hoping to see Oman Arena take on a Moore Gym flavor on Saturday.”
Reed’s free throws capped a game filled with wide point swings, as Carroll opened the game with an early eight-point lead at 14-6 before Trevecca Nazarene closed out the final 10 minutes of the opening half with a 27-8 run to take a 33-22 lead into the break. Trevecca had a 16-0 run during that span as well. Carroll scored the first nine points of the second half to cut the lead to just two points, then regained the lead at 43-42 on a Jolene Fuzesy three-pointer with 10:55 remaining in the game.
The lead changed hands five more times before Trevecca Nazarene’s Abby Lawson converted a three-point play to give the Trojans a 55-53 lead with 1:56 to play. Sophi Forney answered with a basket on the ensuing Carroll possession, tying the game at 55-55 with 1:25 left. After Reed sank the free throws, Carroll took a three-pointer for the win, but Reed rebounded the miss and was fouled with six-tenths of a second remaining to seal the victory.
Lawson finished with a game-high 21 points off the bench for Trevecca Nazarene, while Reed posted 15 points, including a pair of three-pointers. Kristin Archie tallied five assists and three steals.
Sophi Forney led Carroll with 16 points on seven-of-eight shooting from the field, and Amy Brooks posted a double-double with totals of 15 points and 11 rebounds. Carroll was eight-of-29 (28 percent) from the field in the opening half, and the Fighting Saints misfired on six-of-10 first-half free throws. In the game, the Fighting Saints were four-of-32 (13 percent) from three-point range.
With the win, Trevecca Nazarene improves to 27-6 on the season and advances into the quarterfinals for the third consecutive season, where it will meet the Vanguard/Oklahoma City winner Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. Carroll wraps up the season with a 30-5 record.
Christian Gibson led Trevecca with five rebounds, and Kristin Archie had five assists in the game. As a team, Trevecca shot 18-of-47 (38.3%) from the field, 6-of-17 (35.3%) from long range, and 15-of-18 (83.3%) from the charity stripe in the game.
Trevecca is making its eighth consecutive trip to the NAIA Women's Basketball Championships since reinstating the women's program just 11 years ago. Coach Gary Van Atta is returning to the tournament for the seventh time. This will be the second trip with the Trojans. He led Montevallo, a NCAA D-II team now, to five consecutive trips to the NAIA tournament. He led Montevallo to the Fab Four, two Elite Eight's and one Sweet Sixteen. In all, Van Atta has a 11-6 record at the NAIA Tournament. The Trojans are 9-5 in NAIA Tournament play. Trevecca has been to the Elite Eight in each of the last three years.
Coach Gary Van Atta Quotes:
“We faced a much taller team today and it showed with their rebounding edge and especially in their second chance opportunities.”
“We were surprised at our run late in the first half that got us out to an 11-point lead. We started hitting 3-pointers and defensively we shut down the NAIA's best 3-point shooting team.”
“I think they might have been a little tired late in the first half and that left us open.”
“When Amy Brooks played in the second half after missing the first half due to fouls, she really made and impact scoring and rebounding.”
“I told our team with 18.7 seconds left that if we got one rebound we'd win. We did and we did. It is great to be the first team through to the Elite 8, not many outside our locker room ever thought we'd make the tournament this year, much less the Elite Eight. I couldn't be prouder of a team than I am this year's team.”
“Our next opponent is Vanguard and they everything they are said to be. They both tall and physical and that will be a challenge, but we hope to have a large crowd here Saturday and our team will be ready for the challenge.”
“You don’t go 30-0 with the No. 1 target on you back as long as they have and not be a very special team. It will take one of our better efforts, but that’s what we intend to bring to Oman Arena on Saturday. A game like this is what you hope for at the start of the season. Its hear and we’re excited for the opportunity.”
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