FRANKFORT, Ky. – The fifth-ranked Westminster College women’s basketball team advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2013 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship with a tough 66-60 win over Faulkner (Ala.) on Friday afternoon at the Frankfort Convention Center.
Westminster, the No. 2 seed in the second quadrant, moves to 29-3 overall this season and reaches the quarterfinals for just the second time in school history. The No. 7 seed Faulkner ends its season at 26-7.
It was a tough going for the Griffins in the first half. They fell behind 7-0 less than three minutes into the game and didn’t score their first points until a Cydney Tibbitts jumper at the 15:24 mark of the first half. Faulkner would maintain the lead throughout the first half as it held Westminster to just 22.6 percent shooting in the period. Nicole Yazzie would score with 34 seconds left in the half to send the game to halftime with Faulkner leading 26-25.
Brooke Larsen would open the second half with a pair of free throws to give the Griffins their first lead of the afternoon at 27-26. That was answered by eight straight points from the Eagles to again lead by seven with 17:19 to play. Trailing 40-38, Westminster put a 12-3 run together that was capped with a three from Kelsi Wells and a layup by Tibbitts. Not to be outdone, Faulkner recorded another 8-0 run to take a 51-50 lead with 3:48 left in the half.
Allie Eastman would connect on her second three of the night with 1:18 remaining to break a 55-55 tie and put the Griffins in front for good. Westminster would go 8-of-12 at the foul line down the stretch to survive with the victory.
The Griffins only managed 15 baskets in the game, and they finished at 30 percent from the floor. They made nine of those buckets from beyond the arc and were 27-of-35 (77.1 percent) at the foul line. Westminster had a 41-33 edge in rebounds with 11 boards coming on the offensive end for 11 points.
Tibbitts finished with a game-high 16 points before fouling out with 3:48 left. She shot 4-of-10 from the floor, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out two assists. Yazzie added 15 points and four rebounds with three makes from beyond the arc. Tia Pappas finished with 11 points and nine rebounds off the bench, and Larsen chipped in an important nine points.
Faulkner had four players score in double figures with Spenser Cantrel leading the way with 11. The Eagles got 10 apiece from Brittney Carter, Shannon Evans and Sonya Vuong.
Westminster will face a familiar opponent in the quarterfinals as it goes against the winner between No. 1 seed Westmont (Calif.) and No. 4 seed Rogers State (Okla.). The Griffins defeated each of those teams during the regular season on the opponent’s home floor. Saturday’s game will tip at 2 p.m. MDT from the Frankfort Convention Center.