Winona Lake, IN: The #4 seeded Alice Lloyd College Lady Eagles took to the court on Thursday, March 18th against the #1 seeded Southwestern Christian University Eagles (OK) with a berth in the NCCAA National Championship on the line. The Lady Eagles overcame a nine-point deficit with 5:46 to play to pull out a thrilling 72-69 victory.
In the opening period, SCU rode the 12 points of forward Thamires Andrade to pull to a quick lead. However, ALC got a combined 14 points from senior guards Haley Hall and Shelby Davis to combat her effort. Nevertheless, the Oklahoma club led 22-17 after one-quarter of action.
In the second quarter, the Lady Eagles answered with a nice run of their own. Sparked by the shooting of senior guard Ali May, the Pippa Passes crew rolled off a 13-3 run to pull out to a 30-25 advantage at 6:03.
Unfortunately, Southwestern sharpshooter Jamie Clarke suddenly caught fire and pumped in 11 points to lead her club back. Her dominant display made the score 40-37, SCU at intermission.
As the third period began, the pace slowed considerably as both clubs went cold. Clarke helped her squad hold their lead with 7 more points, but freshman forward Madison Thompson hit some huge shots in the paint to keep the Lady Eagles in striking distance. The horn sounded with the midwestern club leading, 55-52.
In the final stanza, SCU looked to deliver the knockout blow, as their two stars lifted the top-seed to a seemingly insurmountable 67-58 advantage with just 5:46 left to play. Fortunately, Coach John Mills Lady Eagles do not know the meaning of the word quit.
On the next possession, May drilled a deep triple (67-61). Then after two successful free throws by Southeastern at 4:50 made the score 69-61, stingy defense and Hall would take over.
On her club’s next four possessions, Hall drilled three consecutive jumpers and 1-2 free throws. Suddenly, the board read 69-68 at 2:22.
SCU would bring the ball down looking to score, but the ALC defense was incredibly intense and stifled them once more. After several misfires, Alice Lloyd would gain possession with a chance to take the lead.
At 40.3 seconds, Davis was fouled on a shot in the paint. The guard coolly swished both to give her club the lead (70-69). Oklahoma came down looking for a good shot, but incredibly, the Lady Eagles would produce another great defensive play and force the miss.
With just 15.6 ticks remaining, SCU was forced to foul. Thompson then went to the line and the freshman showed true grit by sinking both tosses (72-69).
Now in desperate need of a bomb to tie, Southwestern found the going tough. They got the ball to Andrade who tried a shot under incredible pressure. Her shot wasn’t close as time expired to end the barnburner.
For Alice Lloyd (10-7), Hall drilled 6-16 field goals and 8-9 FT’s to lead the club with 22 points. She stuffed the stat sheet once more as she led everyone with 4 assists, and 2 steals. She also grabbed 7 rebounds.
May finished the night with 15 points and 4 assists, while Davis contributed 13 points. Thompson came up huge with a 12-point, 16 rebound double-double. She also added 3 assists, 1 block, and 1 steal. Senior center Alex Clifton added 8 rebounds, while sophomore center Emma Maggard added 9 boards and 2 blocks.
The Caney Club won despite shooting just 31.5% (23-73) from the field and 30% (9-30) from long range. They connected on an impressive 89.5% (17-19) from the charity line. They added 47 rebounds, 17 assists, and 7 steals.
SWC (11-5) was paced by Andrade and Clarke, each with 24 points. Their squad finished shooting 37.3% (22-59) from the field and 43.3% (13-30) from behind the arc. They sank 70.6% (12-17) from the foul line and added 42 rebounds, 16 assists, and 3 steals.
The victors won the game by holding the Oklahoma squad scoreless the final 4:50 to close on an 11-0 run, and by grabbing 19 offensive rebounds, which gave them 14 more shot attempts.
The Lady Eagles now advance to the championship game on Saturday, March 20th, when they play the #2 seed of the tournament, the University of Northwestern Eagles (MN). Tipoff is set for 2:00 pm.