Top-ranked Indiana Wesleyan steamrolls into title game

From the Sioux City Journal –

Red-hot Wildcats dominate Cedarville, 93-56

Considering the circumstances, top-ranked Indiana Wesleyan had the most dominating performance of the 2007 NAIA Division II women’s basketball tournament Monday night, rolling to a 93-56 victory over Cedarville in the first of two semifinals at the Tyson Events Center.

Seemingly oblivious to the fact that they were playing the fifth-ranked team in the country, a team that was playing in its third final four in four seasons, the unbeaten Wildcats came out smoking.

Indiana Wesleyan, running its record to 37-0, shot a mind-boggling 75 percent from the field in the first half. By the time six minutes had elapsed, the Wildcats had an 18-4 lead and, for all intents and purposes, the game in hand.

Sarah McGill, one of four senior starters, fired in 31 points to complement All-American Liz Howerth, who had 15 points. Lisa Thompson, a 6-1 junior, nearly doubled her season average with 12 points.

Indiana Wesleyan, which plays second-ranked College of the Ozarks (Mo.) in tonight’s 6:30 championship game, tied Claflin for the most consecutive victories in a season by an NAIA Division II school.

“They’ve been shooting for this for a long time and we felt the first five minutes of the game were going to be real important,” said Indiana Wesleyan Coach Steve Brooks. “We needed to come out and compete, first and foremost on the defensive end, and try to limit them.

“Tonight, our shots were falling and I have no answer for that. I thought this would go down to the wire like our other games with them have.”

Cedarville’s Brittany Smart, arguably the best player ever in this tournament, finished with 30 points in the final game of a decorated collegiate career. However, the tournament’s all-time leading scorer and the top scorer in NAIA Division II history was all the offense the Yellow Jackets had to offer.

“It was a clinic on offense and a clinic on defense,” said Cedarville Coach Kirk Martin. “They came out and shot the ball so well, we had trouble getting comfortable and we didn’t get comfortable the entire first half.

“You can think of all kinds of reasons, but the actual reason is because of what they did to us. They just put it on us and it had nothing to do with we couldn’t do this and we couldn’t do that.

“It was Indiana Wesleyan just playing really good basketball.”

McGill, a 6-foot senior who played on a pair of state volleyball championship teams at Muncie (Ind.) Delta High School, must have thought the basket looked as big as the ocean. She finished 13 of 17 from the field, nailing five of 7 three-pointers. McGill, who averaged 10.7 points per game this season, had 21 points in the first half, staking the Wildcats to an insurmountable 49-31 lead.

“Everybody was clicking, we were just hitting all of our shots,” said McGill, whose high game this season was 34 points. “We didn’t want this to be our last game because we all have so much fun together, so we just came out and did what we could do to win.”

Indiana Wesleyan, like Cedarville a No. 1 seed in its respective bracket, finished the game 38 of 61 for 62.3 percent. Nothing, however, could compare to its remarkable 21 of 28 in the first half.

“We shot the ball extremely well, but I hope we didn’t shoot our wad tonight because we have another game tomorrow,” said Brooks. “But, at least we get a chance to play again.”

So, how much pressure will Wesleyan feel tonight when it tries to complete an unbeaten season?

“There’s a lot of pressure, everybody’s talking about it, everybody’s gunning for you and nobody’s on your side,” said McGill. “But we stick together as a team and that’s what gets us through.”

Monday’s loss signalled the end of an era at Cedarville, with seniors Smart, Karah Walton, Kristi Beougher and Stacie Travis playing their final games. Smart finished her career with 3,234 points and in 17 national tournament games, she poured in 405 points.

Walton, a senior point guard, played only 14 minutes because of a foot injury she’s been battling the entire season.

“They’ve created a wonderful legacy of Cedarville basketball, ” said Martin. “And the most important thing is they’re girls who love the lord and represent their school really well.”

Cedarville, located in suburban Dayton, was runner-up to Morningside in both 2004 and ’05.

Indiana Wesleyan, representing the powerful Mid-Central College Conference proudly, hit its first five shots from the field and 10 of its first 13, racing to a 23-6 lead. There was nothing Cedarville could do to stop the runaway freight train.

Wesleyan fans, though, saved their biggest cheer of the night for the final minute, when BreAnne Miller scored a bucket.

Miller, a freshman from Huntington, Ind., has been undergoing chemotherapy treatments for leukemia. She nailed her team’s final basket of the contest with 48 seconds left.


Kristi Beougher 3-4 2-2 8, Mary Stockdale 2-5 3-4 7, Karah Walton 0-2 0-0 0, Brittany Smart 10-21 7-8 30, Stacie Travis 0-3 0-0 0, Julie Utz 0-1 0-0 0, Bayley Nosal 0-3 0-0 0, Alison Lemon 3-7 0-2 8, Lacie Condon 0-1 0-0 0, Kristine Rucker 1-1 0-1 2, Stephanie Latham 0-0 0-0 0, Emily Noble 0-2 1-2 1, Lauren Gentene 0-0 0-0 0, Alisha Lee 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 19-51 13-19 56.


Sarah McGill 13-17 0-0 31, Liz Howerth 7-12 1-2 15, Lisa Thompson 5-5 2-2 12, Katrina Spitler 1-2 0-0 3, Stephanie Culp 3-7 0-0 9, Whitney Dubbs 1-2 0-0 3, Katy Hinkle 4-4 0-0 8, BreAnne Miller 1-3 0-0 2, Andrea Fichter 0-2 2-2 2, Brooke Amstutz 3-3 1-2 8, Sarah Branham 0-1 0-0 0, Heather Zimmerman 0-0 0-0 0, Kyra Pappas 0-1 0-0 0, Lindsey Waggoner 0-1 0-0 0, Jena Schafer 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 38-61 6-8 93.

Halftime — Indiana Wesleyan 49, Cedarville 31. Three-point shots — Cedarville 5-14 (Smart 3-6, Lemon 2-3, Walton 0-1, Travis 0-1, Condon 0-1), Indiana Wesleyan 11-18 (McGill 5-7, Culp 3-6, Spitler 1-2, Dubbs 1-1, Amstutz 1-1, Miller 0-1). Fouled out — None. Rebounds — Cedarville 26 (Beougher 7), Indiana Wesleyan 33 (Howerth 8). Assists — Cedarville 9 (Smart 3), Indiana Wesleyan 22 (Spitler 7). Turnovers — Cedarville 17, Indiana Wesleyan 9. Total fouls — Cedarville 11, Indiana Wesleyan 17. Officials — Bart Baldwin, Butch Patterson, Ann Schroeder.


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