Hot shooting pushes Fire to Round of 8

SIOUX CITY, Iowa—Message received.

Less than 48 hours after surviving its first round NAIA National Tournament game against Cornerstone in overtime, the Fire responded with a lights-out shooting performance in an 83-63 win over fifth-seeded Indiana Wesleyan.

With the victory, the Fire advance to the quarterfinal round on Saturday at 2 p.m. Eastern.

“We got into a typical game flow,” said coach Tim Hays. “When we showed up (Wednesday), we weren’t quite in the rhythm we are on game days. Today felt more like a normal day. We came out and executed from the get go and knocked down shots. We had good balance inside and outside, and our energy was up today.”

Southeastern (31-0) scored the first seven points of the game on its first six shots of the game. Indiana Wesleyan (25-9) hit just 5/15 from the field in the first 10 minutes, trying to shoot from the outside over the SEU zone defense, hitting just 1-of-7 from 3-point range.

Ana Richter was a big catalyst for the top-seeded Fire, scoring seven points in the first quarter, helping SEU hold a 23-11 advantage at the end of the first.

Richter finished a perfect 8-for-8 from the field, was 2-for-2 from 3-point range, and made all four of her free throws.

“Ana is putting up Bill Walton numbers,” lauded Hays. “She’s absolutely killing it defensively and offensively, and we’re looking to get her the ball more.”

There was no letting up in the second quarter, as the Fire hit nine of its 12 field goal attempts, with Jaycee Coe scoring seven of her 17 points in the second 10 minutes to give SEU a 48-21 halftime advantage.

Coe added nine assists, five rebounds, and two steals.

“We never let them get any momentum,” said Richter. “We got scores followed by stops, and it hurt their confidence and we were flying around on defense.”

Helping the defense was the post play of Marlena Schmidt, who had seven blocks, and helped hold IWU to just 33% from the field.

Emma Karamovic was also in double figures with 11 points, had seven rebounds, and three assists.

This marks the second consecutive appearance for the Fire in the quarterfinal round.