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Record Breaking Night for Lady Warriors in NAIA Opening Round

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By SCWarriors.com

 

PARK CITY, Kan.-There was plenty to cheer for as the Lady Warriors took to the court in Park City at Hartman Arena for the NAIA Women’s Basketball National Championship Tournament First Round play. Career accomplishments were reaching, season accomplishments are within reach and coaching milestones are so close you can taste it. On top of these things, there was an NAIA National Tournament game being played; one in which Sterling came away with a 73-70 victory.

BOX SCORE

Sterling came out of the gates scoring getting their first bucket off of a play off the tip. Karsen Schultz got Sterling on the board so fast that if you blinked you missed it. After the opening basket, Sterling gave up 5 straight points to the Mid-America Christian University Evangels. The 5-2 lead they opened up was the only lead MACU would have the whole game. Sterling fought back and scored at an unbelievable pace for what you would expect in a National Tournament game, especially as the lower seed. Sterling and MACU faced off in Oklahoma City earlier this season which contributed to Sterling being the lower seed in today’s matchup.

The Warriors went on a 16-2 run over the next four and a half minutes. In that stretch, Bethany Stucky hit her first shot of the night making the basket and getting the foul. The basket made Stucky a 1,000 point scorer in her career at Sterling. The Warriors found themselves with an 11 point lead with just a few minutes left in the first quarter. As time expired in the quarter, Sterling held on to a double-digit lead, 26-16, after ten minutes of play. Sterling shot 59% from the field in the first quarter which gave them their lead.

Over the next two quarters, Sterling’s offense looked more like it did in their last game which amounted to a KCAC Semifinal loss to the University of Saint Mary. Sterling scored just 12 and 14 points in the next two quarters respectively. With slower scoring in the second quarter, MACU was able to cut the lead to just 3 on several occasions but was not able to turn the table and take the lead. The Warriors were able to stop MACU every time they came at them with a run. Sterling took a 5 point lead into the half, 38-33. Schultz was the spark in the Warrior offense. Shy Christopher was nearly single-handedly keeping the Evangels in the game scoring 16 first half points.

Sterling tried to gain some breathing room in the third quarter, but MACU had other plans. Sterling was not able to pull away, but neither were the Evangels able to drastically cut into the Warrior lead. Sterling turned to a zone defense in order to try to stop the one-on-one penetration by Christopher. Sophomore, Evie Gill became more involved in the Warrior offense with a few recent injuries that have allowed her to see more frequent action. The biggest moment in the third quarter went almost unnoticed. With 5:09 left in the third quarter, Taya Wilson tied Mieka Woudstra for the all-time Sterling College rebounding lead, and after grabbing a rebound with 2:15 remaining in the quarter, she became the stand-alone all-time rebounding leader at Sterling College. While this was going on behind the scenes, Sterling was doing their best to maintain their lead, which they did. The Warriors led by 6 points with just ten minutes to play in regulation.

Things did not come easy in the fourth quarter for the Warriors either. Two quick baskets by the Evangels cut the lead to just 2 points. Sterling built their lead up slightly and stayed at arms reach for much of the quarter. With 90 seconds to play, Sterling held on to a 10 point lead and you could almost get comfortable, but, once again, the comfort was short-lived. MACU scored on an and-1, layup, and back-to-back threes to cut the lead to two. In this stretch, some of Sterling’s best free throw shooters went 4-8 from the charity stripe opening the door for the late comeback. With five seconds remaining, Evie Gill hit a free throw to go up by 3 with four seconds to play. MACU was out of timeouts and was not able to advance the ball with a timeout. Sterling had a few fouls to give, and they did, with 2.2 seconds remaining in regulation. This strategy made it more difficult for the Evangels to get a good shot off. MACU made a last chance heave that didn’t get close to the basket and 11th seeded Sterling College stole a win from 6th seeded MACU. The final score was 73-70 favoring Sterling.

With the win, Sterling is now 26-5 on the season and advances to the Second Round of the tournament and faces #3 Montana Western. On top of the accomplishments that were reached tonight, a couple more wait in the balance. Schultz scored 24 points, leading the Warriors, and now sits just 6 points shy of jumping onto the single season scoring top 10. For Coach KC Bassett, the win over MACU marks the 199th of her spectacular career. Tomorrow night could be another milestone night for the Warriors.

Sterling was led by Schultz with 24 points, but she also had 10 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals, solidifying her choice as the KCAC Newcomer of the Year. Kali Briar, KCAC Freshman of the Year, scored 16 points for Sterling and added 3 rebounds. Wilson, KCAC Player of the Year, added 9 points, 9 rebounds, and made a huge impact collecting 4 steals and drawing 3 charges.

Sterling shot 44% from the field and just 1-12, 8%, from beyond the arc. Sterling was 16-20 from the charity stripe, and all four of their misses came in the last 90 seconds of the game.

Be sure to check for news and updates on Sterling Warrior Athletics on Facebook (/SCWarriors), Twitter (@SterlingCSports), and Instagram (sterlingcsports), as well as the hashtag #SwordsUp. Watch all of the Warriors’ live home events on the Sterling College Sports Network.