March 15, 2017
BILLINGS, Mont. – Making their fifth-straight national tournament appearance and their twelfth overall in program history, The Master’s University women’s basketball team beat No. 4 seed Our Lady of the Lake (TX) 85-83 in the first round of the 37th Annual Division I Women's Basketball National Championship Wednesday night at the Rimrock Auto Arena in Billings, Montana.
With the win, No. 17 TMU’s 2016-17 overall record improved to 23-8 and advanced the fifth-seeded Lady Mustangs to the second round of the national tournament. On Friday, TMU will play No. 1 seed and No. 1 nationally-ranked Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) (34-0) at 1:15 p.m. (PDT).
“I can't really put into words the pace of this game,” commented ninth-year TMU head coach Dan Waldeck. “I thought two good teams played really well. Bianca [Cubello] was amazing, and I thought our team played with tremendous resolve and grit. I'm just thankful.”
Cubello championed the Lady Mustangs’ efforts as the senior tallied career-highs in scoring (28 points) and rebounds (19 boards) en route to her ninth double-double of the season. Three other Lady Mustangs scored in double figures as Megan Lindsley tallied 17 points, Hannah Ostrom posted 15, while Ashley Bartow notched 13. Elsewhere, Sabrina Thompson dished out six assists, while Cubello and Kelly Burns each posted two blocks. Bartow had TMU’s lone steal.
Collectively, TMU went 32-66 (48%) from the field, 9-11 (81%) from the charity stripe, and 12-28 (42%) from behind the arc.
TMU opened Wednesday’s game with a 14-4 run, only to have Our Lady of the Lake answer with a 24-14 run of their own that ended with a 28-28 tie with 4:08 left in the first quarter.
The Saints silenced the Lady Mustangs for the majority of the first half and led TMU 39-34 at halftime.
However, at the 5:07 mark of the third frame, a three-pointer by Lindsley sparked an 11-0 TMU run to allow the Lady Mustangs to retake the lead at 58-57.
Down, but not out, the Saints began the fourth quarter with a 9-0 run. An OLLU three-pointer at the 1:20 mark trimmed TMU’s lead to 82-77. After taking a steal and draining a long-range jumper, the Saints trimmed two more points off TMU’s lead.
The Saints brought the score within two points (85-83), but TMU’s stout defense ran out the clock and propelled TMU into the tournament’s second round. Notably, the Lady Mustangs have advanced to second round for the second-straight year.
As mentioned earlier, on Friday, TMU will play No. 1 seed and No. 1 nationally-ranked Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) (34-0) at 1:15 p.m. (PDT).
Fans can catch Friday’s game as the first 30 games of the national championship will be video-streamed live at www.NAIANetwork.com, the NAIA’s official video platform powered by Stretch Internet. The championship final is distributed on ESPN3 for the fourth-straight season on March 21 at 7 p.m. Live stats can be accessed here.