Historic Season Finishes with Elite Eight Loss
SIOUX CITY, Iowa – Taylor’s record-breaking season came to a close on Saturday, as the team fell to the reigning national champions in the NAIA Tournament Quarterfinals by a final score of 75-62.
A slow start doomed the Trojans, as No. 3 and top-seeded in the Duer Bracket Dakota Wesleyan (31-5) made its first six shots, jumping out to a 14-2 lead. The onslaught continued in the opening quarter with the Tigers climbing to a 21-point advantage after 10 minutes of action.
DWU was in total control in the first period, hitting 10-of-15 shots from the floor for a 66.7 field goal percentage and five-of-eight long balls, converting at a 62.5 rate from downtown. On the other side, Taylor could not buy a bucket, shooting 16.7 percent from the planks, while giving up six turnovers.
The Trojans found their footing in the second quarter and continued to fight through the remainder of the game. TU edged the Tigers in each of the final three periods, outscoring DWU 58-50 in the last 30 minutes of the contest.
Lacey Garrett sparked the TU offense in the second half, posting seven points in the first four and a half minutes of the third. As a team, Taylor shot the ball well in the quarter, sinking nine-of-15 field goals.
Taylor put together a final push in the fourth quarter, cutting the deficit down to 10 points with seven minutes remaining. Becca Buchs netted eight points with five foul shots and a trey to start the final stanza. The Tigers responded with an eight-point run to extend their lead back to 18 points.
A tough night from beyond the arc hurt the Trojans, as the squad was well below its season average with four triples on a 22.2 three point percentage.
Three Trojans notched a double-digit scoring effort on Saturday, as Buchs led the way with 17 points. Kendall Bradbury finished with 13 points and seven rebounds and was followed by Garrett who added 12 points, while shooting four-for-four from the planks.
The Elite Eight loss brings an end to the careers of TU’s three seniors Bradbury, Garrett and Aubrey Wright, as the trio helped the Trojans record the most wins in a single season in program history, including a program record 22-game winning streak. The group also saw TU earn the program’s first trip to the NAIA National Tournament Round of Eight since 2007 and its first Crossroads League regular season title since 1996, and tournament championship since 1998. The Trojans also took down a program-record 10 teams ranked inside the NAIA Top-25 and piled up a team-record 376 three-pointers in 2018-2019.
Kendall Bradbury ends her career as the top scorer in Taylor and Crossroads League history with 2,850 points.
TU returns 10 lettermen to next year’s squad and two starters, as well as two of its top-three scorers from the 2018-2019 season.