| Berea Falls to #1 Morningside
SIOUX CITY, Iowa. Ė No. 8 seed Berea College lost to #1 Morningside College, 104-80, in the opening round of the 17th annual NAIA Division II Womenís Basketball National Championship.
The Lady Mountaineers (21-12), the #1 scoring team in the nation, struggled with Morningside's size and athleticism while hitting just 25 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc (11-of-43) and getting out-rebounded 69-47.
For the game, Berea was led by Ashley Jade Howard, who scored 25 points despite suffering an head injury early in the game when she was going for a loose ball and was driven into the court by a Morningside player. Howard returned to lead Berea in scoring. Also scoring in double digits for the Lady Mountaineers were Candy Walls (18) and Stephanie Corry (13).
Berea turned Morningside over 24 times, as many times as they've been turned over all year. Berea scored 80 points on a team that gives up a average of 62 points.
"I believe we prepared sufficiently, but once we stepped onto the court with our young team, everybody was kind of in awe again like in previous years," said senior Stephanie Corry. "We didnít get the effort we had to have to keep the score close."
Morningside played aggressive defense, but the Lady Mountaineers had plenty of open looks that just wouldn't go in.
"Theyíre a great defensive team, and their pressure did what it was designed to do," says coach Bunky Harkleroad. "We had a lot of turnovers, and too many of them were unforced. We thought a little too much and made some lazy passes. We didnít value the ball. We didnít rebound like we should have, and we let them take too many threes. But the reason for all that is that Morningside is a great team."
Morningside (31-3) was led by sophomore Brittany Williamson who finished with a game-high 30 points and 16 rebounds. Williamsonís 30 points is the highest single game point output of any player so far in the young tournament. The Mustangs dominated the boards with Williamsonís help, out rebounding Berea 69-47. Morningside also outscored the Lady Mountaineers in the paint, 42-28.
Supporting Williamsonís effort for the Mustangs was J.J. Hall with 20 points along with Alisha who finished with 11. Dani Gass also had a solid rebounding game, finishing with 10 rebounds for Morningside.
Morningside advances to the second-round game at 5:45 p.m. and will face the winner of Southern Oregon and St. Ambrose (Iowa).
Berea returns home where they will lay the groundwork for a fourth consecutive run to the championship tournament.
For more information on the NAIA Division II Womenís Basketball National Championship visit www.naia.org.