Will play in third-straight national quarterfinal on Saturday at 4 p.m.
SIOUX CITY, Iowa—The top seed in the Liston Bracket was aggressive as soon as the ball went in the air at midcourt during its second round game at the NAIA Division II National Championship.
A fast start shooting and a tenacious defensive effort powered Southeastern (29-2) to an 82-60 win over fifth-seeded IU Northwest, earning a third consecutive trip to the national quarterfinal.
The Fire held a 26-10 lead after the first quarter, by making 11 of their 17 shots (64.7%), and limiting IUN to just 4-of-14 from the field.
Wednesday’s star, Marlena Schmidt picked up where she left off, scoring eight points and hauling in seven rebounds in the first quarter on her way to a second straight double-double of 15 points and 12 boards. She also had four blocks, and assist, a steal, and was a perfect 5-for-5 from the field.
“I think the biggest thing we have going for us right now is we are dominating the paint,” said coach Tim Hays, who earned his 199th career victory. “Scoring 50 points in the paint and not allowing easy opportunities sets the tone for a game.”
In addition to the 30-point advantage in the lane, the Fire won the rebound battle 41-37, and blocked five shots.
It wasn’t just the starting five that were responsible for the victory. The Fire got 33 points from their reserves. The RedHawks (27-7) didn’t get any points from their reserves until a 3-pointer by Hannah Hammar with 12 seconds left in the game.
“We may have two or three of our top players have an average night and still score 80+ points (as a team),” said Hays. “When you’re in that position in the national tournament, we are a tough team to guard. It just makes the statement that everybody that sees the floor can play.”
Off the bench, Emma Karamovic led all scorers with 17 points, going 8-of-13 from the field, and hauling in five rebounds. Trisha Jacobs and Reagan Linster each added seven in a reserve role.
Up 40-23 at the break, SEU stepped on the gas, led by Elsa Paulsson-Glantz’s nine points in the period to push the Fire to a 62-38 lead. Paulsson-Glantz finished with 14 points, five rebounds, and four assists.
“Our passion came out today and we really showed what we’re here to do,” said Paulsson-Glantz. “We play together, and have a lot of passion. We just need to stay focused and shoot the ball a little bit better.”
The Fire also got 12 points and five steals from Makenzie Cann, to set a new program tournament record for swipes in a game.
The Fire play in the quarterfinals on Saturday at 4 p.m. Eastern against either third-seeded Antelope Valley or seventh-seeded Oregon Tech.
“We know we are going to play a team that have momentum,” said Hays. “A lot like us, they come from the outlying areas of the country and they will ultimately be in the same boat as we are riding the momentum.”