SIOUX CITY, Iowa - Despite committing only 12 turnovers and limiting the Cardinals to seven offensive boards, half their season’s average, the 7th-seeded Forester women’s basketball team couldn’t overcome their first half shooting woes as they succumbed to 2nd-seeded Concordia University (Mich.) 69-60 in first round action of the 21st annual NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship.
The Foresters struggled from the field by going 10-for-34 for 29.4% in the first half. After four lead changes and two ties, the Foresters played to a 13-12 deficit through the first ten minutes before missed offensive opportunities started getting the best of them. Courtney Baker’s pull-up jumper in the paint to give HU a 12-10 advantage at the 11:14 mark proved to be the Foresters’ final lead of the day.
Kelsey Green capped off her stellar career by notching her 24th double double in a Forester uniform by pouring in a team-high 21 points and grabbing 11 boards. Liesl Davenport was the only other Forester to reach double figures with 15 points, nine of which came in the first half. Pazia Speed added nine points and dished out three assists.
The play of the game, much to HU’s chagrin, came at the end of the first half when Kortni Elsworth’s buzzer-beating three-quarter court shot found nothing but the bottom of the net to give the Cardinals a 30-22 halftime lead and an undeniable energy that carried them to their school’s first ever National Championship victory.
As had been the case all season, the Foresters never faulted in their effort and determination as they pulled within five at 46-41 behind back-to-back layups by Speed with just over 11 minutes remaining but the Cardinals weathered the Forester storm.
They responded with a 13-2 run over a five-minute span to take their largest lead of the night at 59-43. The upset-minded Forester outscored the Cardinals by seven to close out the game but it wouldn’t be enough as Concordia rode out the win to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
Elsworth finished with 22 points to top all scorers. Her half court heave landed her a spot on ESPN’s Sport Center’s Top Ten Plays for March 8. Hannah Sabol tossed in 17 points and Brittany Simmons came off the bench to score ten.
The Cardinals’ bench came up big, outscoring HU’s bench 22-6. The Foresters won the turnover battle, forcing 20 turnovers while committing 12 but were outrebounded 41-37. Huntington shot 44.4% in the second half to finish the game 37.1% (26-for-70).
HU wraps up the season with an overall record of 20-11.
To view Elsworth’s half-court shot on YouTube, click here
. Or check out her shot on ESPN’s SportsCenter Top Ten as they will continue to run it throughout the day today. Elsworth’s shot is play #9.