Raiders Knock Off Top Seed; Advance To Semifinals
Date posted - March 10, 2012
Kami Kuhlmann hit a go-ahead jumper with 31 seconds left in leading #8 Northwestern to a thrilling 57-52 win over top-ranked Indiana Wesleyan sending the Red Raiders to their fifth straight national semifinals. Northwestern improves to 26-7 on the year.
The Red Raiders held a seven-point lead (51-44) with 2:43 left to go after two made free throws by Mel Babcock. A Claire Freeman three-pointer ignited an 8-0 Indiana Wesleyan run, capped by another three-pointer by Freeman, as the Wildcats grabbed a one-point lead (52-51) with 57 seconds left. After a Red Raider timeout, Kuhlmann knocked down a jumper from the left side and then was fouled after controlling a rebound off an IWU miss with 14 seconds left. Kuhlmann made both free throws to put NWC up three (55-52) and the Red Raiders sealed the win after rebounding a missed three-point attempt by IWU. Kendra De Jong hit two free throws with one second left to make the final, 57-52.
Points were at a premium as both teams’ defenses controlled the play. Northwestern shot 36% for the game and went just 1-for-8 from beyond the arc (12.5%). The Red Raiders were very effective from the foul line, however, making 24-of-28 attempts from the stripe. Kuhlmann led all scorers with 22 points, going a perfect 11-of-11 from the free throw line. Kendra De Jong recorded her third straight double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds. Karen Hutson and Mackenzie Small added six points each.
Northwestern fell behind by five early before Kuhlmann sparked a 12-0 run to put her team up 17-10 with under 10 minutes to play. The senior scored 10 points during the run while the Red Raider defense held Indiana Wesleyan without a field goal for nearly seven minutes. The Wildcats closed the first half on a 10-2 run, cutting the NWC lead to 21-20 at the break.
IWU surged ahead again early in the second half, holding a five-point (30-25) lead but Northwestern scored the next 10 points, and after a Kuhlmann jumper, led 35-30 with 11 minutes to go. Northwestern continued to roll and pushed the lead up to 13 (47-34) at the five minute mark before IWU began its comeback and eventually took the lead with under one minute left.
The Wildcats shot 33%, well below their season average (48%), and were led by Mid-Central player of the year, Krystal Stoneking, with 16 points and nine rebounds. Claire Freeman added 14 points and five rebounds for IWU, who finishes the season with a 33-3 overall record.
Northwestern advances to play in the semifinals on Monday, March 12 and will play either Briar Cliff or Mount Mercy at 6:00pm
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