Defenders Are National Champions

(Sioux City, Iowa) – The Dordt University women’s basketball team defeated 14th-ranked Providence (Mont.) 57-53 to win its first ever NAIA National Championship this evening at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa. 

Karly Gustafson closed out her outstanding Defenders career with a team-high 16 points and Janie Schoonhoven netted 14 points, all but two coming in the second half, to go with 11 rebounds for her third consecutive double-double of the championship. Tournament most valuable player, Macy Sievers, added 10 points, eight rebounds and a game-high eight assists. Both Gustafson and Schoonhoven were also named to the all-tournament team.

The Defenders, who spent 11 weeks of the season ranked first in the NAIA Coaches’ poll, finished the season with a nine-game win streak and end with a program-best 35-2 record. 

Dordt trailed by as much as 10 on two separate occasions early in the third quarter, the final at 35-25 at the 6:11 mark. A Gustafson basket in the lane sparked a 9-0 run to bring the Defenders to within one (35-34) following five straight points scored by Schoonhoven. 

Providence scored the next five points, all by Eliannah Ramirez, to push the Argo’s lead back to six (40-34) with just over two minutes left in the period. The Defenders scored the final four points of the quarter, all on free throws by Sievers, as Dordt trailed by just two (40-38) and set up a dramatic last 10 minutes with the national title on the line.

A free throw by Gustafson followed by a basket from Schoonhoven gave the Defenders their first lead (41-40) since early in the second quarter. Four lead changes and one tie highlighted the next five-plus minutes Dordt trailed by one, 49-48, after a free throw by Schoonhoven with 3:23 left.

Following a defensive stop, the Defenders scored the go-ahead basket on a lay-up by Schoonhoven after a Faith Van Holland offensive rebound to go up 50-49 at the 2:29 mark. A Providence turnover led to another bucket by Schoonhoven and a three-point (52-49) lead with under two minutes remaining. 

Leading by one (52-51), Bailey Beckman made four consecutive free throws and Dordt’s defense held Providence to without a field goal for the final 3-plus minutes to secure the title.

Ashlee Maldonado led all players with 18 points, right on her season average, and was the lone Providence player to scored in double figures. Keanna Salave’a pulled down 15 rebounds to go with nine points. The Argos end the season with a 27-9 record.

Playing in front of a partisan Defenders crowd, Dordt ran out to a 6-2 lead on baskets by Beckman, Sievers and Schoonhoven. A jumper by Eliana Kuperus gave the Defenders their largest lead (8-3) until Providence came back to tie the game at 12. Dordt scored the final basket of the quarter for a 14-12 advantage.

Providence took control in the second quarter, outscoring the Defenders 15-6 in the period, to take a 27-20 lead. Gustafson led the Defenders with eight points at the half and Kuperus scored six; no other Dordt player had more than two points after 20 minutes of play.

A Look at the Numbers:

  • Dordt was held to its second lowest point total of the season
  • the Defenders held Providence to 15 points below their season average and fourth lowest point total of the season
  • this was the 16th time Dordt allowed fewer than 60 points
  • Dordt shot 38% for the game and was held to just one three-pointer (1/7)
  • the Defenders converted 16-of-24 free throw attempts
  • Providence shot 36% for the game, 29% (6/21) from the arc
  • the Argos’ were a perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line
  • Dordt had a slight advantage on the glass (37-36) and in turnovers (12-16)

Story and photo courtesy of Dordt Sports Information

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