Winona Lake, IN: Senior guard Haley Hall poured in 29 points as the #4 seeded Alice Lloyd College Lady Eagles captured the NCCAA DI Women’s Basketball National Championship by beating the #2 seeded University of Northwestern Eagles (MN), 68-53.
ALC never trailed in this one as senior guard Ali May scored the first five points of the game to help her squad jump out 8-0. After the Minnesota squad cut the deficit to one, Hall drained three consecutive bombs to help the Lady Eagles lead 16-11 after one period.
In the second quarter, Northwestern sliced the deficit to 18-15 before the Lady Eagles answered with another run of their own. Over the next five minutes, five different players scored to propel Alice Lloyd on a 13-4 burst to pull out to a 31-19 cushion at 3:30. The Pippa Passes squad would go into the locker room with a 31-23 advantage at intermission.
As the third period began, UNW came out determined to reverse their fortunes. They tightened up on the defensive end and the Lady Eagles went cold. Sparked by guard Megan Roberts, Northwestern came out firing from long range, and began to claw their way back into contention. Their fourth bomb of the stanza cut the deficit to only three (40-37) with 3:39 left in the stanza.
In desperate need of a boost, the Lady Eagles first saw Hall score on a tough drive, and then sophomore center Emma Maggard score from inside to stop the bleeding (44-37). When the horn sounded to end the quarter, the bluegrass club was leading 44-38. If they could hold on, they were only ten minutes away from the title. In the final stanza, UNW looked to produce a huge comeback as Roberts whittled the deficit to just four (44-40) with a jumper. The fans were bracing for a battle to the wire. Fortunately for the Eagle fans in attendance, the Caney Creek club delivered the knockout blow.
On their next possession, senior guard Shelby Davis swished a big trifecta (47-40). Then, after getting a stop on defense, Hall drilled a 22-foot jumper (50-40). Finally, after another great effort of defense led to an empty trip for Northwestern, ALC senior Bailee Brainard scored on a strong post move. When the dust had settled with 6:35 remaining in the game, Alice Lloyd suddenly led, 52-40.
From that point, ALC closed the contest by drilling a perfect 12-12 from the charity stripe. When the final buzzer sounded ending the game, the jubilant Lady Eagles stormed the court in celebration.
For Alice Lloyd (11-7), Hall continued her incredible tournament play as she drilled 8-17 field goals (5-8 3pt field goals) and 8-9 FT’s to lead everyone with 29 points. She added 8 rebounds. May finished the night with 10 points and 4 assists, while senior center Alex Clifton added 8 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Junior guard Hanna Kash added 8 points and 2 steals while sophomore center Emma Maggard added 9 boards and 2 blocks. Freshman forward Madison Thompson came up huge with 13 rebounds, 4 points, and 2 blocks. Davis added 3 points while Brainard contributed 2 points.
The Caney Club won shooting 35.6% (21-59) from the field and 37% (10-27) from long range. They connected on an impressive 84.2% (16-19) from the charity line. They added 47 rebounds, 17 assists, and 7 steals.
UNW (16-6) was paced by Roberts with 17 points. Impressive defense from Alice Lloyd caused her squad to shoot 32.8% (30-61) from the field and 23.3% (7-30) from behind the arc. They sank 46.2% (6-13) from the foul line, and added 45 rebounds, 13 assists, and 2 steals.
The Eagles conclude their fine season as the NCCAA DI Women’s National Champions, and they defeated the #5, #1, and #2 seeds to take the tourney. Additionally, they were the NCCAA Mideast Regional Champions, and qualified for the River States Conference Tournament.
Coach Mills will return the bulk of his team next season, as Alice Lloyd seeks to repeat their success in 2021-22.