Late Calvin Surge Ends Warriors' Season
Courtesy of Wisconsin Lutheran College
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- An 8-0 run from fifth-ranked Calvin late in the second half proved to be too much for the Wisconsin Lutheran College women's basketball team as it saw its season come to an end 59-47 Friday in an NCAA Championship Tournament First Round game at the Van Noord Arena.
The Warriors came out with some nerves as they turned the ball over on their first two possessions and fell down 3-0 just over a minute into play. On the ensuing possession, Alyssa Allister (Lake Mills, Wis./Lakeside Lutheran) got Wisconsin Lutheran on the board with a three-point basket.
Turnovers kept plaguing WLC early as the visitors had 10 turnovers in the first 12 minutes and fell behind 16-10 with 7:50 remaining in the opening half.
Calvin pushed that lead to a first-half best eight points, 18-10, with 6:58 on the clock, but WLC responded with the next six points to cut its deficit to just two at 18-16 with 4:33 remaining in the first half. Little scoring was done over the final stages of the half as the host Knights went into the locker room with a 22-17 advantage.
Wisconsin Lutheran struggled offensively in the first half as it shot just 25.9 percent (7-for-27) from the floor and committed 13 turnovers. Calvin was held to 28.6 percent (8-for-28) shooting as the home team committed just six first-half turnovers.
Allister and Kristen Schulz (Safford, Ariz./Arizona Lutheran) led a balanced WLC first-half attack as both players had four points. Rachel Johnson (Milwaukee, Wis./Wisconsin Lutheran) grabbed a first-half high six rebounds as Wisconsin Lutheran controlled the glass in the opening half, out-rebounding the Knights, 25-15.
Calvin's Kayla Engelhard led the Knights in the half with a first-half high six points, while Ally Wolffis chipped in with five points. The Warriors did an outstanding job in the first half on three-time Michigan Intercollegiate Athletics Association Player of the Year Carissa Verkaik, holding her to just two points and zero rebounds.
WLC quickly cut the deficit to two as Krissy Day (West Allis, Wis./Wisconsin Lutheran) buried a three-point shot on its first possession after the break. The Warriors then evened things up at 26-26 on a Schulz basket, but the Knights quickly pushed the lead back to six at 34-28 with 14:10 remaining in the game.
Calvin expanded its lead to eight, 37-29, with 13:06 remaining before Wisconsin Lutheran cut its deficit to four at 37-33. Calvin again pushed its lead back to seven at 42-35 but the Wisconsin Lutheran responded with four points from Johnson, trimming the lead back to 42-39 with 6:28 remaining in the contest forcing Calvin to call a timeout.
The timeout worked in the Knights' favor as they scored the next eight points to go up 50-39 with 3:38 on the clock, causing WLC to call a timeout of its own.
A Johnson lay-up cut the lead to 50-41 before Calvin went back up by 11 points, 52-41. The Warriors got another lay-up from Dillon to trim the margin to nine, 52-43, with 1:43 remaining in the game. Wisconsin Lutheran was forced to foul from that point on and Calvin made seven of eight free-throws in the final two minutes to secure the 59-47 victory.
Wisconsin Lutheran connected on 31.1 percent (19-for-61) shooting for the game, compared to 36.4 percent (20-for-55) for Calvin. WLC turned the ball over 20 times that led to 17 points for the hosts, while the Warriors scored just eight points off 12 Calvin turnovers.
Johnson finished her career with a team-high 12 points, while also pulling down seven rebounds. Schulz posted a double-double with 10 points, 13 rebounds and five blocked five shots. Freshman Katelyn Kuehl (Fond du Lac, Wis./Winnebago Lutheran) added 10 rebounds as Wisconsin Lutheran out-rebounded Calvin, 45-35.
Verkaik got going in the second half for Calvin as she finished with 19 points, making seven of nine second-half shots. Engelhard added 14 points and Julia HIlbrands led the Knights with nine rebounds. Calvin (26-1) moves onto Saturday's Second Round when its hosts Wis.-Stevens Point (24-4) at 7:30 p.m. The Pointers advanced after defeating Franklin (Ind.) 61-58 in Friday's other first round game.
Wisconsin Lutheran concludes another impressive season with an overall record of 24-5, winning its fourth straight NAC division title and second straight NAC Tournament championship. Seniors Rachel Johnson and Jenna Neuberger (Muskego, Wis./Wisconsin Lutheran) concluded their careers with a four-year record of 85-29.