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Tigers fall to Blazers in West Quarterfinal, 78-67

Game Statistics

ST. JOSEPH, MINN. - The host College of St. Benedict Blazers got hot in the second half and in a one-minute span early in the final 20 minutes they turned a two-point deficit into a six-point lead and never trailed again on the way to a 78-67 victory over DePauw in the West Quarterfinal of the NCAA Division III Championship.

The Tigers, however, refused to go down without a fight as they cut a Blazers 17-point lead with 6:38 left to as little as eight in the closing minute. The loss ended the Tigers' season at 22-5 and stopped the team's school-record 17-game win streak. The win propelled St. Benedict to a 26-1 record and into Saturday's quarterfinal championship game where they will face Pacific Lutheran. The Lutes were 54-34 winners over Hardin-Simmons in the evening's first game.

The Tigers trailed early, but it was the post players who gave the Old Gold the biggest lift in the opening minutes. After the hosts gained a 7-4 lead, the Tigers went on a 16-9 run that was fueled by
Kelly Bailey's 10 points and Amy Hasbrook's six.

St. Benedict answered with nine straight to take a 25-20 lead. The Blazers couldn't pull away and Lindsey Rush's three- pointer in the closing minute cut the halftime deficit to 33-32.

The second half opened with six lead changes as the teams exchanged baskets over the first 2:18 of the half with
Kelly Morrison's only three-pointer of the game giving the Tigers a 39-37 advantage. Over a 1:03 stretch, the Blazers came right back with Molly Mark's three-pointer, Robyn Ruschmeier's layup and Heidi Schwichtenberg's trey to surge ahead 45-39.

The margin was still six at 54-48 at the midway point of the half before St. Benedict scored 11 straight begining with Schwichtenberg's third three-pointer of the half to take their biggest lead at 65-48.

The Tigers put together a 6-0 streak to close to 11 with just under five minutes to play. They cut the lead to single digits at 67-58 with 1:48 left on
Susan Bender's layup and got as close as eight in the final minute.

Bailey led all scorers with a career-high 23 points followed by Hasbrook and Bender's 12 apiece and Morrison's 11. Laura Wendorff led St. Benedict with 20 points followed by Ruschmeier and Mark with 19 apiece and Schwictenberg with 14.

The Tigers shot 49 percent from the floor for the game including 52 percent in the first half and outrebounded their hosts, 40-33. Bender led all with eight rebounds.

The loss also marked the end of the careers of Tiger senior players Susan Bender,
Paula Boback and Kelly Morrison and student assistant coach Jessica Hayden. The four were part of the most successful four years in school history with a record of 85-21, three NCAA tournament appearances, two trips to the NCAA round of 16 and three conference championships.

More notes will be posted later.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was posted early on the morning of Saturday, March 13, but due to some coding errors on our part, some of you were unable to view this page. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.