Superior graduate Mackenzie Kmecik scored a career-best 23 points and three other Wisconsin-Superior players scored in double figures as the Yellowjackets reached the UMAC championship game with a 90-83 win over Northwestern in the league tournament semifinals Wednesday at Mertz Mortorelli Gym in Superior.
The Yellowjackets (18-8) play Bethany Lutheran (22-3) for the UMAC tournament crown at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Mankato. The Vikings reached the championship game with a 53-43 win over Minnesota Morris on Wednesday.
UWS built a big halftime lead — 43-27 — but Northwestern closed the gap in the third quarter and pulled ahead briefly in the fourth, 67-66, with about five minutes to play.
But UWS used solid free throw shooting to regain the lead and then close the game out. Kmecik and Eva Reinertsen both hit a pair of free throws to put the 'Jackets up five, and Emily Carpenter later converted a three-point play to stretch the lead to six with 1:29 to play. Then, UWS hit seven of eight foul shots in the final 40 seconds — including four straight by Kmecik in the last 12 seconds — to seal the game.
Kmecik hit 6-of-8 field goals, 10-of-11 free throws and also had two assists and two steals. Marissa Ruiz scored 16 points, Carpenter had 15 and Reinertsen recorded a double-double, with 14 points and 12 rebounds.