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LAKELAND, Fla.—A big second half helped the Southeastern women’s basketball team score its third consecutive trip to The Sun Conference Championship game.
Five players scored in double figures, two with double-doubles as the Fire knocked of fifth-seeded Johnson & Wales 88-51 in the semifinal round.
Southeastern (28-0) will face St. Thomas in Saturday’s championship.
The Fire hardly missed in the second half, shooting 61% from the field, and made 15 of its 20 shots from inside the 3-point arc. In the second 20 minutes, the Fire broke the game wide open, outscoring JWU 48-28.
Highlighting the second half effort for the top-seeded Fire was sophomore center Marlena Schmidt, who scored 12 points, had five rebounds, and blocked six shots in the second half.
“She wasn’t able to get into the flow of the game, getting two early fouls,” said coach Tim Hays of Schmidt. “Her maturity and confidence has grown so much that she came back with a fire in her belly, and wasn’t worried about the fouls, and just did her job.”
Conference Player of the Year Ana Richter was the catalyst in the first half, coming up a rebound short of accomplishing her double-double in the first 20 minutes. Richter finished with 18 points, 13 rebounds, and had two assists.
“Ana was really our anchor right from the get-go,” said Hays. “She carried us through the half when we weren’t shooting well from outside. If somebody is down for a second, we have other people that step up.”
With 4:42 left in the first half, the Fire closed on a 12-2 run to hold a 40-23 lead. Halee Printz was responsible for five of those points, helping her finish with 11 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, and two steals.
The Fire scored the first 12 points of the second half, holding the Wildcats scoreless for the first 5:04 of the third until a JoNae Gonzales 3-pointer found the bottom of the net. Gonzales finished with a team-high 19 points, and had six rebounds. Tianna Ayulo added 14 points, five rebounds, and five steals.
Anissa Toumi provided a big spark off the bench, scoring 14 points, and took five charges. Emma Karamovic was also in double figures with 12 points, connecting on 4-of-6 from long range, and dished out seven assists.