John Brown rallies, Wiley cruises into next round

By LINDA YOUNKIN Published:

Another top seed was sent to the sidelines Saturday night at the NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship as Westminster fell to No. 3 seed Wiley 75-58 at the Frankfort Convention Center.

In the quarterfinal nightcap John Brown University rallied from an 18-point deficit with eight minutes left to beat Loyola (La.) 65-63.

In Monday’s semifinals, Wiley plays Freed-Hardeman at 8 p.m. The first semifinal pits John Brown against Oklahoma City at 6.

John Brown 65, Loyola 63

Loyola looked to be in good shape, leading 60-42 with 7:52 left, but John Brown outscored the Wolf Pack 23-3 the rest of the way to move into the Fab Four.

“We picked up more full court,” John Brown coach Jeff Soderquist said. “We hit some shots that we weren’t hitting early, and they missed some shots they’d been making.

“Sometimes momentum takes over. I don’t want to say it was all our defense, but we did pick up more.”

After falling behind by 18, the Golden Eagles (27-7) scored seven straight points before Loyola’s Jasmine Brewer hit a free throw.

Back-to-back 3-pointers from Lauren Rogers and Kortni Barenberg pulled John Brown within six points at 61-55.

The Wolf Pack (23-11) went up by eight, 63-55, on a jumper from Shayne Charles with 3:31 remaining, but those were the last points Loyola scored.

“They did a good job of staying with it,” Soderquist said of his team. “They’re an experienced group, and they’ve played a lot of games together. They did a good job of not giving in and chipping away.

“The key was the first couple of minutes after being down 18. Once we got to the three-minute mark it was a doable score.”

Barenberg went 1 for 2 from the line with 44 seconds left, pulling the Golden Eagles within a point at 63-62, and they took the lead on a 3-pointer by Brooke Barker with nine seconds left.

Loyola went for the tie, but Janeicia Neely missed a layup, and the final horn sounded during a scramble for the rebound.

John Brown shot 34.4 percent for the game, and Loyola hit 44.7 percent, 37.5 percent in the second half. The Wolf Pack were 11 for 23 from 3-point range.
The Golden Eagles held a 39-34 rebounding advantage.

Sierra Shipley led John Brown with 18 points, and Neely scored 18 to lead Loyola.

Wiley 75, Westminster 58

Wiley’s focus is on defense. When the offense is clicking, too, the Wildcats are a tough out.

They proved that Saturday, shooting 60 percent in their win over Westminster.
Wiley (29-4) led 41-22 at halftime, shooting 61.3 in the half while Westminster (26-3) shot 36 percent.

“We live by our defense,” Wiley coach Courtney Garrett-Pruitt said. “We were going to press for 40 minutes. I was shocked how well we shot the ball, but defense was our main strategy.

“We want to turn our defense into our offense. I tell the team that defense is the best offense.”

The Wildcats turned Westminster over 13 times in the first half and 21 times for the game.

The Griffins cut Wiley’s lead to 11, 56-45, with 9:38 left in the game, but the Wildcats went on a 9-2 run to go ahead 64-47 with 7:12 remaining.

Wiley’s largest lead was 19 points in the first half, and Westminster never led by more than two points.

Westminster finished the game shooting 45.7 percent.

The Wildcats had 11 steals to three by Westminster, and they held a 26-22 edge on the boards.

This is just the third time Wiley has been to the NAIA national tournament and the Wildcats will be making their first appearance in the Fab Four.

“We’re excited, and it’s a blessing,” Garrett-Pruitt said. “We’ve been working hard for this.”

Danisha Shaw led Wiley with 23 points while Kelsi Wells led Westminster with 19.

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