College women's basketball: Bulldogs capture first NSIC tournament title in 15 years
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- In the closing moments Tuesday evening, Minnesota Duluth coach Mandy Pearson was glad sophomore Sarah Grow didn't take her advice.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - In the closing moments Tuesday evening, Minnesota Duluth coach Mandy Pearson was glad sophomore Sarah Grow didn't take her advice.
"When Sarah shot it, I was telling her to kick it out so I'm glad she didn't listen to me," Pearson said with a smile.
Grow's 3-point play with less than 80 seconds remaining gave the Bulldogs the lead for good in a 52-48 victory against Minnesota State-Moorhead for the NSIC women's basketball tournament championship at the Sanford Pentagon.
"It's tough," said Dragons junior Megan Hintz, who scored a team-high 16 points. "You give Duluth a lot of credit. They showed up to play, every single one of them. ... It's just kind of a bummer."
UMD (23-6) won its first NSIC women's tournament title since 2004. The Bulldogs have won six consecutive games.
"It's awesome. It's great for this team because they've worked so hard," said Pearson, a former standout point guard for the Concordia-Moorhead Cobbers. "This program was in a tough spot for a little bit and these girls they've been working hard."
The Dragons (26-6) were playing in their first NSIC tournament title game since 2007. Moorhead has yet to win an NSIC women's tournament championship. The Dragons have won at least a share of the past three NSIC regular-season titles.
"Offensively, things were not very smooth for us and they hit a couple big shots and that was basically the difference in the game," Dragons coach Karla Nelson said.
UMD earned the automatic bid for the NCAA Division II tournament. The NCAA selection show is Sunday. The Dragons are likely to make the tournament as an at-large team.
"We have some work to do before we get into the (Central) regional," Hintz said. "We have about a week and a half to figure some things out."
The Dragons took a 48-47 lead after sophomore Kiley Borowicz drained a long 3-pointer with 1:42 remaining in the fourth quarter. Moments later the 6-foot-2 Grow delivered the game-winner.
Grow ended up with the ball on the wing and sank a 10-foot shot, while drawing a foul. She added the free throw to give the Bulldogs a 50-48 lead with 1:18 remaining. The tournament's most valuable player, Grow finished with a game-high 17 points with three rebounds and four blocked shots.
"I just kept hoping we'd make a basket, but both teams play such tough defense," Pearson said. "I knew it was going to be a battle. I knew it would probably come down to the last couple minutes."
The Dragons had a chance to tie the game in the closing seconds, but Borowicz had a contested layup attempt rim off with about five seconds remaining. UMD gathered the long rebound. Grow added two foul shots with 0.9 seconds to play for the final margin.
"There was probably more flow in the last two minutes than there was in the entire game," Nelson said. "I didn't think it was going to be a very pretty game. Duluth's defense was very good, don't get me wrong, but I also felt like we were very sluggish."
UMD shot 36 percent (21 of 58) from the floor, while the Dragons shot 33 percent (20 of 60) from the field. Neither team led by more than six points. The Bulldogs built a 34-28 lead after sophomore guard Ann Simonet drained a 3-pointer with 2:44 to play in the third quarter. The Dragons largest lead was two points.
"Both teams' efforts were good defensively," Nelson said. "It was not a pretty offensive basketball game. There was not a lot of flow. You've got to credit both teams."
UMD had four-point halftime lead, despite shooting 29 percent (10 of 35) from the floor in the first two quarters. The Bulldogs closed the first half on a 7-2 run. Simonet capped that stretch with a layup that gave UMD a 23-19 lead with two seconds to play until halftime.
The Dragons shot 31 percent (9 of 29) from the field in the first 20 minutes. Hintz paced Moorhead in the first half with 10 points on 5-for-9 shooting from the field.
"Coach described it best, the whole game was pretty much like a wrestling match," Hintz said. "It was a good game. Duluth happened to come out on top. They're a good team. I give them a lot of credit."
Minn. Duluth 11-12-13-16-52
Minnesota Duluth - Simonet 3-11 0-0 8, Kozlowski 2-11 0-0 4, Stark 1-2 1-2 4, Boehm 3-9 0-0 7, Grow 7-12 3-3 17, Schneider 1-4 0-0 2, Kahl 0-1 0-0 0, Olson 4-8 1-1 10. Totals 21-58 5-6 52.
Minnesota State-Moorhead - Volkert 1-13 0-0 2, Borowicz 2-11 1-7 5, Herbranson 1-5 0-0 3, Green 6-9 0-0 13, Hintz 7-15 2-2 16, Steichen 0-1 0-0 0, Fech 3-4 0-0 7, Boom 0-2 2-2 2, Liegel 0-0 0-0 0, Brown 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-60 4-4 48.
3-point goals: UMD 5-15 (Simonet 2-5, Kozlowski 0-2, Stark 1-2, Boehm 1-3, Schneider 0-1, Olson 1-2), MSUM 4-17 (Volkert 0-6, Borowicz 1-7, Herbranson 1-2, Green 1-1, Fech 1-1). Total fouls: UMD 4, MSUM 11. Rebounds: UMD 35 (Stark 9, Olson 9), MSUM 39 (Green 12). Assists: UMD 11 (Pahl 3), MSUM 9 (Volkert 3). Turnovers: UMD 8 (Kozlowski 2, Olson 2), MSUM 9 (Volkert 4). Att. - 402.