Tech falls to Cornerstone in WHAC women’s title game


FORT WAYNE, Ind. –  The No. 9-ranked Indiana Tech women’s basketball team fell to Cornerstone, 72-69, in the finals of the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) Tournament on Tuesday evening at the Schaefer Center.

 Keanna Gary scored a game-high 28 points and grabbed nine rebounds while DeAnn Kauffman made the first start of her career and scored 24 points in place of an injured Haley Cook. Kendall Knapke scored six points and grabbed 10 rebound while Rachel Bell stuffed the stat sheet with five points, six rebounds and seven assists.
In a back-and-forth affair that featured 11 ties and 13 lead changes, neither side led by more than nine points in a game of runs. A 7-0 run for Tech at the 4:53 mark in the first gave them an 18-13 lead with 3:48 in the quarter while the hosts took a 23-17 lead into the first quarter intermission. Gary scored 11 of the Warriors 23 points in the period.
After both sides shot over 55% from the floor in the first 10 minutes of play, the defense’s would rise to the occasion in the second quarter, with the Golden Eagles shooting just 27.8% and Tech converting only 23.5% of their shots. A 10-1 from the visitors gave them a 27-26 lead with 5:57 until the half. A three-pointer from Baylee Rinehart gave Tech a 29-27 lead on their next possession, but Cornerstone responded with a basket from Taylor Richards to the game back up at 29 with 5:16 on the clock.
Both teams would score just twice more before the half, with the hosts going on a 2:53 scoring drought while CU went 4:56 without a ball going through the hoop, but the sixth-ranked team in the conference tournament trailed the regular season champions by just one at 34-33 following 20 minutes of play.
The offenses would find their rhythm in the third quarter again with Gary scoring 10 of Tech’s 17 points in the period while Cornerstone went 7-13 from the floor. A 6-0 run from the Orange and Black, with Kauffman converting an old-fashioned three-point play with two seconds left, gave the Warriors a 51-47 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
A quick 5-0 spurt to begin the final period of regulation gave Tech a 56-47 lead, their largest of the game, just 45 seconds into the fourth quarter. A 9-1 run from the Golden Eagles though, cut the Warriors lead to 57-56 with 6:16 on the clock. Kauffman scored the next four points to grow the advantage back to five, but an 8-0 run from CU gave the visitors a 64-63 lead with 3:09 to play.
A Gary free throw tied the game up at 64 with 1:43 to play and the two teams found themselves

knotted up at 66 with 1:02 remaining in the game. Cornerstone went just 3-6 from the free throw line in their next three trips, but a key offensive rebound for the Golden Eagles gave them their third trip to the charity stripe as they made it a 69-66 lead with 14.3 seconds to play. Tech would turn the ball over on their next possession though and have to foul to keep the hopes of a conference tournament title alive, but Cass Vredevoogd hit the second of her two free throws to extend the lead to four points with nine seconds left. Kauffmann hit a three to cut the deficit to one at 70-69 with four seconds left, but Sydney Muller knocked down both free throws to make it a 72-69 game and Kauffman’s last second-heave was off the mark as Cornerstone beat the Warriors for the second time this season.

Tech (29-4) now turns its attention to the NAIA Division II National Championship, set to

start March 7 in Sioux City, Iowa. The Warriors will find out their first round opponent on Wednesday, February 28 with the Bracket Reveal show, which will broadcasted from the NAIA Facebook page starting at 7 p.m. EST.

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