Warriors Advance to NAIA Quarterfinals with 61-57 Win over Mountaineers

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The No. 7-ranked Indiana Tech women’s basketball team continued their march in the NAIA Division II National Championship Friday morning as they defeated No. 9-ranked Eastern Oregon University, 61-57, in a second round matchup inside the Tyson Events Center. The win puts the Warriors in the quarterfinals of the national tournament for the first time since the 1993 championships while it is the first in program history Tech has won multiple games in the tournament.
Bella Lozano-Dobbs had a team-high 13 points while adding three assists, three steals and two rebounds. Rachel Bell notched her first double-double of the season with 11 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Alexis Hill added 10 points, four rebounds and three steals while Kendall Knapke had eight points and six rebounds.
The Warriors got out to 4-0 lead after baskets from Lozano-Dobbs and Hill and didn’t allow the Mountaineers to crack the scoreboard until the 5:52 mark of the first quarter. Eastern Oregon took the lead off a pair of free throws with 4:54 on the clock and went on a 10-2 run to take a 17-8 lead. Tech responded with a 7-0 run to tie the game up at 17-all, but EOU hit a jumper right before the buzzer to take a two-point lead into the second.
The No. 3 seed in the Naismith Bracket went on a 10-2 spurt to begin the second and held a 27-18 lead with 6:33 to go until the half. A jumper in the paint from Bell sparked a 16-0 run for the Warriors as they closed out the half leading 34-27 while Tech held Eastern Oregon scoreless for the final six minutes and 33 seconds of the quarter.
After the Mountaineers scored on their first possession of the third quarter, the Orange and Black countered with a 6-0 spurt to extend their lead to 11 points, their largest of the game with 5:55 to go. EOU, the three-time defending conference champions from the Cascade Collegiate Conference, would not go down lightly though, as they battled back to make it a three-point game with 1:15 left in the period following a 9-4 spurt. Lozano-Dobbs scored four points in the final 51 seconds of the quarter, including a jumper right before the horn sounded, to take a 50-44 lead into the fourth.
A three from EOU’s Maya Ah You Dias, the CCC’s two-time Player of the Year, sparked a 8-0 run for the Mountaineers that gave them the lead back at 52-50 with 7:06 to go. Following a timeout from the Warriors, Jenna Szostak knocked down a contested three to give Tech the lead back while Knapke hit a jumper two possessions later to make it a three-point game with 5:53 on the clock.
Eastern Oregon went on a 5-2 run to tie the game up at 57 with 3:42 to go, but Lozano-Dobbs answered right back on Tech’s next possession with a layup to give the Orange and Black the lead for good at the 3:26 mark. Neither side would score until the 13-second mark as DeAnn Kauffman knocked down a pair of free throws to extend the lead to 61-57 after Bell grabbed an offensive rebound just a few seconds earlier to give Tech control of the ball with the shot clock off. The Mountaineers were stifled by the Warrior defense on their final two possessions as the number two seed in the bracket held EOU scoreless for the final three minutes and 42 seconds of the game to advance to the national quarterfinals.
Tech (32-3) now awaits the winner of No. 1-ranked and top-seeded Concordia University (Neb.) and No. 17-ranked and fifth-seeded Cardinal Stritch University. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m. EST from the Tyson Events Center.

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