No. 21 Lady Owls easily make AMC semifinals

The No. 21 William Woods University Lady Owls had little difficulty in taking the next step in the American Midwest Conference postseason tournament.

Senior forward Rachel Baker logged a game-high 24 points and No. 2 seed William Woods shot 54 percent in humbling No. 7 Hannibal-LaGrange University 81-56 in quarterfinal play Wednesday night at Anderson Arena.

The Lady Owls (28-3) — who made 31-of-57 shots — will remain at home for a semifinal encounter against No. 3 Missouri Baptist University at 7 p.m. Friday. Missouri Baptist moved on with a 76-64 victory over No. 6 McKendree (Ill.) University in another quarterfinal game Wednesday night.

William Woods defeated Missouri Baptist twice during the regular season. The Lady Owls rolled to a 77-60 victory on Jan. 27 in St. Louis and then toppled the Lady Spartans 82-68 on Feb. 24.

William Woods encountered little resistance from Hannibal-LaGrange on Wednesday night, leading by as many as 31 points in the second half. The Lady Owls outscored the Lady Trojans by an imposing 44-20 in the paint, and senior guard Jill Sutton’s team-high seven rebounds powered William Woods to a 42-30 advantage on the boards.

Baker, who also handed out a game-high seven assists, was one of three players to reach double figures for the Lady Owls, who finished with 18 turnovers. Senior forward Jestine Gerber and freshman guard Katie Scherder — who was 4-of-4 from the field, including two 3-pointers — provided 10 points apiece.

William Woods scored the game’s first nine points and eventually went up 19-9 after Scherder knocked down a 3-pointer with 11 minutes, 38 seconds left in the first half. The Lady Owls followed that with a 16-4 run to widen their lead to 35-13 on Gerber’s basket at the 3:59 mark.

Leading 41-20 at the break, William Woods started the second half with an 18-8 run to establish its largest advantage of the game. Another Scherder 3-pointer extended the Lady Owls’ lead to 59-28 with 12:45 to play.

Kayla Hruby produced 18 points to pace three players in double figures for Hannibal-LaGrange, which ended its season with a 6-25 record. Emily Borst was next with 12 points and Natasha Bonner had 10 as the Lady Trojans shot just 33 percent (20-of-62) as a team and finished with 19 turnovers.

In Wednesday night’s other quarterfinals, top-seeded Columbia College — ranked No. 14 — demolished No. 9 Harris-Stowe State University 100-56 and No. 4 Park University easily prevailed over No. 5 Williams Baptist (Ark.) College 72-53.

Columbia will host Park in Friday night’s other semifinal.

•Notes: William Woods (11-18), receiving the fifth seed, travels to St. Louis tonight (tipoff at 7) to face No. 4 Harris-Stowe State University (11-19) in the quarterfinals of the AMC men’s postseason tournament. The Owls lost twice to Harris-Stowe during the regular season — 82-52 on Jan. 8 in St. Louis and 61-56 in overtime on Feb. 5 in Fulton.

Tonight’s winner advances to play either top-seeded McKendree (Ill.) University or No. 8 Missouri Baptist University in the semifinals at 4 p.m. Saturday. The game will be played at the site of the higher remaining seed.

Westminster baseball...............3...0

Washington University.............1...2

ST. LOUIS — Four pitchers combined on a two-hitter as the Blue Jays launched their 2011 season with a victory over the Bears in the first game of Wednesday’s doubleheader.

Washington gained a split after limiting Westminster College to one hit in the nightcap.

Senior right-hander Jon Simpher — the third of the Blue Jays’ four pitchers to see action — threw two scoreless innings to pick up the the win in Wednesday’s opener. Simpher didn’t allow a hit, issued two walks and struck out one.

Sophomore right-hander Kevin Moritz worked a perfect seventh, striking out two, to record his first save of the season.

Westminster (1-1) broke a 1-1 tie when they tallied two runs in the sixth. Junior third baseman Evan White’s double down the third-base line with no outs scored junior second baseman Nick Genetti. Senior shortstop Monte Gibbs then delivered a two-out single to center, bringing home White to make it 3-1.

The Blue Jays took a 1-0 lead in the third when sophomore catcher Brandon Niederholtmeyer raced home on a wild pitch. Washington (2-2) pulled even with a run in the fourth.

Niederholtmeyer went 1-for-2 as Westminster — which left eight on base — totalled five hits. Genetti and White were both 1-for-3, while Gibbs was 1-for-4.

The Blue Jays’ lone hit in the second game came on sophomore right fielder Matt Mallette’s one-out infield single in the second. Westminster managed only two other baserunners; senior first baseman Andrew Jett drew a two-out walk in the fourth and senior left fielder V.J. Reynolds reached on a one-out fielder’s choice in the seventh.

The Bears — who finished with only five hits — scored single runs in the first and second.

Junior starter Gary Johnson, a right-hander, pitched just two innings in suffering the loss for the Blue Jays. Johnson gave up both runs — one earned — on two hits and walked one. Westminster committed two errors.

The Blue Jays play their home opener at Saucier Field this weekend with a four-game series against Grinnell and Buena Vista.

On Saturday, Westminster faces Grinnell at 11 a.m. and Buena Vista at 5 p.m. The Blue Jays then concludes the series Sunday with games against Buena Vista and Grinnell at 1 and 4 p.m., respectively.

William Woods baseball.........3...10

Sterling College.......................4....5

STERLING, Kan. — The Owls are 4-7 on the season after splitting Tuesday’s doubleheader.

William Woods University also lost to Sterling 6-4 on Monday.

Details were not available from the three-game series.

The Owls hosted a doubleheader against Missouri Valley College on Wednesday night. Results were not available at press time.

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