No. 7 Northwestern began its defense of its three-straight national championships by cruising to a 92-66 victory over Mayville State (N.D.) on Wednesday in the first round of the 2013 State Farm-NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championships. Red Raider All-American forward Kendra De Jong continued her dominant play on the national stage with 16 points and 10 rebounds despite leaving the game in the first half with an apparent injury.
The Comets stayed close early on until Northwestern surged in the latter part of the second half. The Red Raiders stretched their lead to 41-23 in the first half and led by as many 28 points with Alli Dunkelberger Mackenzie Small and Karen Hutson leading the way. They made up for De Jong’s absence with a combined 46 points.
Head coach Chris Yaw’s squad used its usual stout defense and rebounding to mow down Mayville State. Northwestern limited the Comets to 29 percent shooting while out-rebounding the Association of Independent Institutions foe, 61-38.
Mayville State placed three scorers in double-figures: Hailey Longtin (17), Samantha Heier (14) and Angela Tauer (13). The Comets close the season with an overall mark of 20-6 after making their first appearance at the national championships in school history.
The Red Raiders have not lost at the national tournament since a 63-58 semifinal defeat to GPAC rival Morningside (Iowa) in 2009. Northwestern is aiming for its sixth national title in school history.
The Raiders advance to Friday’s second-round game, where they will challenge No. 10 Concordia (Mich.) in a battle of top-10 teams. Tipoff is set for 10:15 a.m. Concordia defeated Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) 90-80 in a first-round game earlier on Wednesday.