The William Woods University Lady Owls' Sweet 16 matchup against Westminster (Utah.) College will not be remembered for its offensive artistry.
Unfortunately, William Woods was doomed by its difficulties.
No. 8 Westminster took control with an 8-0 run over a 1:52 span with less than 5 minutes to play, and the No. 21 Lady Owls' season ended after a 49-40 loss Friday afternoon in the second round of the NAIA Division I women's national tournament.
William Woods - reaching the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history - finished at 30-5, setting a school record for wins in a season. The No. 6 seed Lady Owls, who led only once at 8-6 on a basket by freshman guard Katie Scherder, were making their third straight appearance in the national tournament.
No. 2 seed Westminster (28-6) moved on to the quarterfinals after losing in the Sweet 16 the previous two years. The Lady Griffins - competing in the national tournament for the fifth straight year - faced top-seeded and No. 1-ranked Union (Tenn.) (33-1) on Saturday night.
The Lady Owls and Lady Griffins were dogged by a shooting funk throughout Friday's contest. William Woods shot a feeble 24 percent (13-of-55) from the field, including a dreadful 17 percent (4-of-23) from 3-point range. Westminster was not much better, shooting just 28 percent (16-of-57) overall and only 27 percent (8-of-29) from behind the arc.
The Lady Griffins took a 24-18 lead into halftime and pushed their advantage to 10 points, 30-20, on a 3-pointer by Jenteal Jackson with 17 minutes, 47 seconds to play. The Lady Owls narrowed the gap to 41-36 when senior forward Rachel Baker lofted in a 3-pointer at the 5:22 mark.
Nicole Yazzie then sparked Westminster's game-changing run after she was fouled on a missed 3-point attempt on the Lady Griffins' ensuing possession. Yazzie proceeded to hit all three free throws, making it 44-36 with 4:55 left.
Yazzie then closed out the run when she knocked down a 3-pointer with 3:03 remaining, extending Westminster's lead to its largest of the game at 49-36.
Baker - the American Midwest Conference player of the year - connected for a game-high 15 points, including three 3-pointers, as the only player for the Lady Owls to reach double figures. Closing out her college career, Baker added nine rebounds, six blocks and three steals.
Junior center Miranda Loesch and junior forward Megan Aubuchon contributed six points apiece for William Woods, which recorded 11 turnovers. Junior guard Sharron Andrews - who had just two points on 1-of-13 shooting - also grabbed nine rebounds as the Lady Owls were outrebounded by a decisive 47-36 margin.
Michelle Pace answered with 14 points to guide three players in double figures for Westminster, which committed 15 turnovers. Yazzie - who hit three 3-pointers - and Dani Evans supplied 12 points apiece.
Lady Owls end Mississippi
tourney with pair of losses
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Lady Owls softball team finished up their spring-break trip with a pair of losses Friday at the William Carey Invitational Tournament.
William Woods (12-7) completed tournament play with losses to Spring Hill College 7-5 and No. 25 University of Mobile 2-0.
The Lady Owls went 6-6 on their trip, which took them to Mississippi and Alabama.
Freshman infielder Lindsey LeCuru went 3-for-4 with three runs batted in as William Woods finished with seven hits against Spring Hill. Senior catcher-infielder Chelsea Loethen was also 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Freshman pitcher MacKenzie Bowden took the loss in relief for the Lady Owls. Bowden worked one inning, allowing two unearned runs on one hit while striking out two.
William Woods committed four errors.
The Lady Owls managed just three hits in the loss to Mobile.
LeCuru was 1-for-3 with a triple, while Loethen went 1-for-3 with a double. Senior catcher-third baseman Megan Willard finished 1-for-2.
Bowden was also tagged with the loss to Mobile. She threw a complete game, giving up two runs on four hits, striking out two and issuing two walks.
William Woods opens American Midwest Conference play with a 2 p.m. doubleheader against Missouri Baptist University on Thursday in St. Louis.
TOPEKA, Kan. - The Owls raised their season record to 13-8 after gaining a split of Friday night's doubleheader with a win in the nightcap.
Further details were not available at press time.
The two teams will close out their four-game series with a 1 p.m. doubleheader today.