WWU Beats MidAmerica Nazarene to Advance to Sweet 16
FRANKFORT, KY -- Priscila Santos posted a new career-high of 37 points to help the sixth-seeded William Woods University women's basketball team upset third-seed MidAmerica Nazarene in a come-from-behind win 79-75 on Wednesday night.
William Woods (26-6) will advance to the Sweet 16 for the second time in school history, as they face Vanguard University on Friday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. MidAmerica Nazarene finishes a record-setting season at 30-3.
Santos put in another spectacular performance as she drilled 11-of-18 from the field, and added 15 points from the charity stripe on 15-of-18 shooting.
After the game, she diverted all praise and thanked her teammates and coaches, and said she had a little help from above.
"I just want to thank Jesus Christ for all of this, all things are through him and I believe he gave me this present," said Santos. "My teammates were great tonight. It's a team sport and without them I would be nothing. We united tonight and played a great game."
The forward was also the leading rebounder in the game, as she pulled down 12 caroms.
Head coach Dan Chapla was more complementary of the forward's play tonight. "She is one of the best players in this tournament. She has carried us over the last month. There are no words to describe her play tonight. She was that good."
William Woods came out sluggish for they hit just 1-of-7 from the field as they trailed 6-2 at the 17:24 mark. Senior Olivia Storjohann was able to bring WWU within one point at 6-5 after hitting a three-point basket.
MidAmerica Nazarene pushed its advantage to five points at 12-7 after a pair of Kelsey Balcom free throws with 16 minutes left to play. The Pioneers extended its lead to 17-10 after a steal and basket from Kendra Fleming.
Priscila Santos went on a personal 10-2 run midway through the half and gave the Owls their first lead of the game at 20-19 lead at the 11-minute mark. But, the lead was short lived as MNU would go on a quick 4-0 spurt to give them a 23-20 advantage.
WWU battled back and retook a 23-22 lead, but another 4-0 run pushed the Pioneers lead back to three at 27-24.
William Woods was able to tie the game at 27-all after sophomore Destani Stensrud completed an old fashion three-point play at the 8:54 mark with an old fashion three-point play. From that point MidAmerica Nazarene would go on a 6-0 run forcing head coach Dan Chalpa to take a time out at the 5:44 mark with MNU leading 33-27.
The Owls cut the lead to two at 33-31 after a Stensrud layup with exactly four minutes remaining. That would be as close as WWU would get for the remainder of the half as MidAmerica Nazarene went on a 10-3 run and took the 43-34 lead into the locker room.
The Pioneers used an 8-4 run to open the second stanza as they built their advantage to 51-38 with 17:25 remaining in the game.
MidAmerica Nazarene maintained a double-digit lead over the next six minutes but a Storjohann layup brought the Owls within nine at 55-46 with 12:41 left.
A Santos basket brought WWU to within seven at 57-50, but the Pioneers quickly jumped back out to an 11-point lead at 61-50. Blake French drilled a three-point basket to bring the Owls back within single-digits at the 9:51 mark.
Katie Scherder cut the lead to five points with 7:20 remaining after hitting her first three-pointer of the game. A Stensrud jumper brought the Owls within three at 63-60 with 6:52 left.
A Storjohann floater cut the Pioneer lead to one at 65-64, and on their next possession William Woods took a one-point lead after a pair of Santos free throws.
MidAmerica Nazarene retook the lead on the next possession, but Santos drilled another pair of free throws, giving the Owls a 68-67 lead with 1:59 left, a lead they would never relinquish. The Owls would hit 7-of-10 from the free throw line down the stretch and sealed the 79-75 victory over no.9-ranked MidAmerica Nazarene.
"I'm extremely proud of this group of young ladies and what we've been able to accomplish," expressed coach Chapla after the game. "We've played our best basketball of the year over the last two weeks, and I told our players tonight it's 40-minute game, and we didn't lead until the 3:30 mark. I thought if we could hang around, good things would happen and that's what we did."
Chapla credited the switch to a zone-defense that allowed the Owls to battle back. "We played 10 possession of zone and it stalled them a bit and allowed us to get some turnovers and rebound the ball better."
William Woods was outrebounded by the Pioneers 44-36. "They are a big team, they outrebound all their opponents and that was to be expected a bit. But we shot 46 percent for the game and I think that allowed us to offset that stat."
Stensrud and Storjohann were the only other Owls in double-figure. Stensrud scored a career-high 19 points in the win and Storjohann collected 10 points.
"Destani had to play well tonight against the MidAmerica pressure," said Chapla of his point guard. "She can get into the paint and make things happen and that's what she did tonight."
Next up for the Owls is Vanguard University (24-3). They are the second-seeded team in the first quadrant and came into the tournament ranked no.8 in the NAIA Division I Women's Coaches Poll.
"We are going to let our girls enjoy this tonight and get back at it tomorrow," said Chapla. "They are one of the best teams here. They rebound well and shoot well. We will have our hands full, but we are glad to be playing on Friday."
Tipoff for the game from Frankfort, Ky., is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.
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