The Eastern Oregon women’s basketball team saw a nine-point first-half lead vanish, rallied from an 11-point second-half deficit to briefly take the lead, and was tied with Indiana Tech, 57-all, after a Beverly Slater 3-point play with 3:42 to play.
But the Warriors scored the final four points of the game to hold on for a 61-57 victory over the Mountaineers in the second round of the NAIA National Championship Friday morning in Sioux City, Iowa, bringing an end to the Mountaineers’ season.
The Mountaineers fell behind as much as 40-29 midway through the third quarter when Rachel Bell scored for Indiana Tech. The basket capped an extended 22-2 run dating back to the second quarter. The run also encapsulated a stretch that saw EOU go scoreless for more than seven minutes.
But EOU found a spark to get back in the game, closing to 41-37 on a Slater field goal and within 44-41 after a Jane Nelson free throw.
The Warriors took a 50-44 lead into the fourth, but 3-pointers by Maya Ah You-Dias and Madison Crews tied the score, and Maren Herrud scored to give EOU a 52-50 lead with about seven minutes to go.
The teams jockeyed to 57-all before Bella Lozano-Dobbs scored in the paint for Indiana Tech with 3:26 to go, and the Warriors added two DeAnn Kauffman free throws with 13 seconds remaining for the final margin. EOU went 0-3 and turned the ball over three times following Slater’s game-tying points.
EOU used a pair of first-half runs to gain the early advantage. Herrud scored in the paint to cap a 9-0 run and give Eastern an 11-6 lead with 3:45 to play in the first, and an 8-0 second-quarter rally — bookended by Ah You-Dias and Julia Hanni 3-pointers — put the Mountaineers ahead 27-18 with 6:33 to play in the opening half.
Those were the final points Eastern scored in the half, as the Warriors rattled off the next 16 points to take a 34-27 lead at the break on a Kauffman field goal. Nelson scored EOU’s only points during Tech’s game-changing run, which was an 11-minute, 50-second stretch where the Mountaineers went 1-for-10 and turned the ball over eight times.
Turnovers, in fact, were the primary difference in the contest. The Mountaineers committed 19 turnovers, which led to 22 Indiana Tech points. By comparison, Tech committed just eight turnovers, and EOU converted those extra chances into only five points.
Ah You-Dias scored 17 points to lead all scorers. Herrud and Slater both added 12 points, with Slater also collecting a team-best eight rebounds. The Mountaineers owned a 39-28 advantage on the boards.
Lozano Dobbs had 13 points for the Warriors. Bell had 11 points and 10 rebounds and Alexis Hill scored 10 points. The Warriors shot 42 percent, just ahead of EOU’s 38 percent.
The Mountaineers finished with a record of 29-4, the fourth-best win total in program history.