SIOUX CITY, Iowa — The top seed in the 2018 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship was on the ropes.
Southeastern trailed by nine with 6:49 to play in regulation, but rallied to force overtime and came away with a 69-64 win over Cornerstone to advance to the Round of 16.
“We just needed to get some stops,” said coach Tim Hays. “We gave them open 15 footers and they hit every opportunity they had.”
By the end of the third quarter, Cornerstone had a 42-38 lead, and was shooting 37% from the field, and had connected on six 3-pointers.
The Fire, conversely, had struggled from the field, going 2-of-12 from bonus range, and 34% from the field.
“We challenged them with about five minutes to go and said we needed four stops and four scores,” said Hays.
Southeastern tied the game at 56 with 2:28 to play on a layup by Ana Richter, then took the lead on the following possession off of a missed 3-pointer. A block by Marlena Schmidt on the next possession gave the Fire the ball back with the lead.
However, Cornerstone scored the next four points of the game to take a 60-58 lead with 22 seconds left. Jaycee Coe answered with a layup with eight seconds left to force overtime.
Coe finished with 11 points and six rebounds.
The upset-minded Golden Eagles got the first basket of overtime, but Southeastern led for the final 3:38 to come up with the win.
Halee Printz had six of her 12 points in the overtime period.
“We’ve been challenged a couple of times this season, and had to dig in because we weren’t playing our best basketball,” said Hays. “It started with some big stops that turned into some big shots and that got us rolling.”
Schmidt and Richter were the catalysts in the first half, combining for 12 of SEU’s 23 first half points. Richter finished with a game-high 18 points, and added eight rebounds, two steals, and an assist. Schmidt was a huge factor on the defensive end, making layups tough for CU, blocking six shots, dishing out six assists, and had 10 points and nine rebounds.
Southeastern scored the first nine points of the game, but a 12-2 Cornerstone run that spanned 6:25 changed the game around.
The Fire will take on Indiana Wesleyan on Friday at 1 p.m. Eastern Time in the second round.