First Half Keys Raider Win Against College Of The Ozarks

Omaha, Nebraska — The Northwestern College women’s basketball team downed College of the Ozarks 82-69 in the first game of Omaha Bracket A in the 2021 NAIA Basketball Championship Opening Round played Friday morning in Omaha, Neb.

The win puts the third-seeded Raiders into the championship game tomorrow morning (Saturday, March 13) against top-seed and No.8 ranked Clarke. The Omaha Bracket A champion will then advance to the final site of the 2021 NAIA Basketball Championship next week in Sioux City.

Alexis Toering poured in a season-high 19 points, making 8-of-11 field goal attempts, and pulled down seven rebounds to lead Northwestern. Sammy Blum netted 16 and Hannah Nerem contributed a season-best 14 points and seven boards coming off the Raider bench.

Northwestern dominated the glass to a 51-38 advantage, pulling down a season-best 24 on the offensive end, leading to 22 more shot attempts than the Bobcats. The Raiders also used their depth, relentless pressure defense and the transition game to tire the College of Ozarks players.

Head Coach Chris Yaw’s squad scored the first five points and raced out to a 9-2 advantage behind six points by Blum. Northwestern twice extended its lead to 11 in the opening period and led by eight (20-12) after the first 10 minutes.

Northwestern found its rhythm on both ends of the floor in outscoring the Bobcats 21-8 in a decisive second quarter for a 41-20 halftime lead. Six different Raiders scored and Yaw’s squad limited Ozarks to just two field goals during the 10-minute period.

College of the Ozarks rallied with a big third quarter, riding the hot hand of Jordan Wersinger, who scored 23 of her game-high 27 points in the second half. The junior knocked down four three-pointers, her final one coming early in the fourth, to cut the Raiders lead to 67-58.

Free throws by Taylor VanderVelde and a three-pointer from Toering put Northwestern back in front by double digits as the Raiders outscored the Bobcats 13-6 for an 80-64 lead with two minutes left.

Northwestern shot 39% for the game, 7/25 (28%) from the three-point arc, and assisted on 23 of its 32 field goals made. VanderVelde scored seven points, pulled down nine boards and dished out five assists. Both Nerem and Toering grabbed seven rebounds and Jada Cunningham added five assists.

The Bobcats shot 40% for the game, 39% (5/13) from the three-point arc. Annie Noah joined Wersinger in double figures with 12 points and seven rebounds.

Northwestern improved to 52-11 at the national tournament.

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