SIOUX CITY, Iowa – Three quarters of the opening game of day two at the 2018 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championships were evenly matched. The second period made the difference for tournament veteran and third-seeded Northwestern (Iowa). The Red Raiders rode their first half surge to an 81-74 win over sixth-seeded Friends (Kan.) in Thursday’s first-round matchup in Sioux City, Iowa.
The Red Raiders built a 37-26 halftime advantage spurred by an 11-2 run to open up the second quarter. During which, four different Northwestern players registered in the scoring column. The blitz began with a steal and transition basket by Renee Maneman.
A first team All-American for the Red Raider volleyball team, sophomore Anna Kiel came off the bench and led all players with 20 points on 6-for-10 shooting from the field and 8-for-9 shooting from the foul line. Four of her teammates reached double figures in scoring: Kassidy De Jong (16 points, 12 rebounds), Haley Briks (13 points, eight rebounds), Darbi Gustafson (12 points, seven rebounds) and Maneman (12 points, eight assists).
Northwestern escaped with a victory despite committing 26 turnovers to the Falcons’ 14. On the other hand, the Red Raiders held significant advantages in shooting percentage (48.1 to 38.2), rebounding (46-33) and free throw shooting (29/38 to 11/12).
Friends cut its deficit all the way down to three (77-74) in the final seconds when Vining emerged with a three-point play. Northwestern made all four of its free throws down the stretch to ice the game.
The Red Raiders will play in the second round at 3:30 p.m. on Friday against the winner between second-seeded Eastern Oregon and seventh-seeded Reinhardt (Ga.).