By Wayne Otto
College Sports Journal
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Day two of the Summit League basketball championships opened with the women taking the main stage in the afternoon session in a quest for the championship and automatic berth in the NCAA basketball tournament.
The Summit League is the only NCAA Division I conference to employ the format that has two women’s games and then two men’s games in the same arena on the same day.
“Hosting our men’s and women’s basketball championships concurrently at one site allows the league’s member schools to maximize fan support and exposure,” said David Brauer, the Summit League assistant commissioner for communications. “Additionally, it allows the league to hold meetings with key university and athletic department personnel while gathered in one location.”
In the afternoon women’s session, fifth-seeded IUPUI Lady Jaguars (13-18) defeated the North Dakota State University Lady Bison (11-20) 80-64 for the right to play the regular season champions, South Dakota State on Monday in the semifinals.
IUPUI raced to a 42-30 halftime edge behind the scoring of Emily Phillips, who scored 11 of her game high 17 in the first half.
The Jaguars led by as many as 21 in the second before cruising to final 16-point margin.
Dawn Luster had 16 points, Nevena Markovic 15 and Katie Comello tallied 10 as the Jaguars shot 46% from the field to claim the victory.
The Bison shot only 29% as Dani Degagne led all scorers with 18.
Hannah Linz had 17 and Janae Burich tossed in 12 and had a game high 14 rebounds as the Bison’s season came to an end.
In game two, the No. 3 seeded Missouri-Kansas City Lady Kangaroo’s (21-10) jumped on the Oakland Grizzlies (11-17) 72-59, for the right to face Western Illinois on Monday, and upset winner over #2 seed Oral Roberts University.
Oakland started the game with a 3-2 lead then the Kangaroo’s scored a bucket by Eilise O’Connor to take a 4-3 advantage and never trailed again in the game, stretching the lead to 23 in the second half, before settling on the final 13-point margin.
UMKC was led by Kim Nezianya who tallied a game high 15 points and also grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds. O’Conner had 12 points and Dayton Hall-Jones and LeAndrea Thomas each chipped in with 11.
The Grizzlies were led by Betha Watterworth’s 15 points. Victoria Lipscomb had 14 and Malika Glover scored 10. UMKC had a 47-36 advantage on the boards.
In men’s Summit League quarterfinal action No. 4 seeded Western Illinois (17-13) held off a charge from No. 5 North Dakota State (17-13) 58-53.
The seesaw game featured 13 lead changes and the score was tied 10
The closely fought game was a back and forth affair until Ceola Clark put the Leathernecks up for good with an old fashioned, four-point play with 39 seconds left in the game to give WIU a 54-51 lead on a trey and free throw.
A turnover by the Bison’s Lawrence Alexander with 16 seconds left and a subsequent foul on Taylor Braun, allowed Obi Emegano to extend the lead to 56-51 for the Leathernecks.
Western Illinois, the leading defensive team in the Summit League, held the Bison to 39% shooting for the game.
Only three players scored for the Leathernecks in the first half, Obi Emegano, Jack Houpt and Terell Parks as the Bison held a 23-22 halftime advantage.
Coming off the bench, TrayVonn Wright led the scoring for the Bison with 14 points. Lawrence Alexander and Taylor Braun both tallied 11 and Mike Felt came off the bench to score 10 in a balanced offensive attack.
For Western Illinois, Obi Emegano had a game high 19, while Summit Conference defensive player of the year Ceola Clark and Terell Parks both chipped in with 13
The Leathernecks will now face regular season champion Oral Roberts, who will carry an impressive NCAA RPI rating of 40 into the game in the semi-finals on Monday.
The nightcap game between No. 3 seed and two-time defending Summit League champions, the Oakland University Golden Grizzlies (17-14) and the No. 6 seed
Southern Utah Thunderbirds (13-16) featured the NCAA Division I scoring leader in Reggie Hamilton, who averages 25.5 points per game.
Southern Utah pulled the stunning upset 84-82 as Jackson Stevenett and Damon Heuir out dueled Hamilton and Travis Bader down the stretch.
The Thunderbirds took a 21-10 advantage early and clinged to a 43-40 halftime lead behind a first half output of 16 points by Jackson Stevenett. Oakland answered with 22 points by Hamilton and 12 by three-point shooting specialist Travis Bader.
Oakland opened up a 81-70 lead with 2:50 to play and then things got interesting.
Southern Utah outscored the Grizzlies 14-1 down the stretch as Reggie Hamilton missed three of four crucial free throws inside of 1:28 to play.
Ray Jones scored a layup to cut the lead to 81-78 and was fouled. He made the free throw and it was a two-point game. Then Hamilton was fouled and converted 1 of 2 free throws.
Hueir hit a three-pointer for the Birds to tie the game, while Bader missed a trey and Stevenett cannes a jumper to put the Birds up 84-82 with 12 seconds left.
Hamilton missed a long jumper and Stevenett rebounded and was fouled.
He missed both shots and Oakland called timeout. Hamilton tried a desperation shot but it was after the buzzer.
The Thunderbirds had 26 points and nine rebounds from all-everything Stevenett. Heuir had 23 points with 5 assists and Wade Collie had 14 off the bench.
Southern Utah scorched the nets shooting 58% and shot 55% from the 3 point arc. Oakland was paced by Hamilton’s 31 points and Bader’s 24.
Drew Valentine tossed in 8 and had a game high 11 rebounds. Southern Utah will now face No. 2 seed South Dakota State in Monday’s second semifinal game.