The Red Raiders incredible postseason run is over as No.11 Northwestern falls to No.2 Concordia 84-77 in the second national semifinal played tonight at the NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship.
Concordia led for most of the first quarter, using a 14-4 run to build up a 14-8 advantage. Baskets by Gustafson and De Jong, along with free throws by Birks, brought Northwestern to within three, 23-20, by quarters end.
With Northwestern leading by two (38-36) after a basket by Haley Birks with three minutes left in the second quarter, Concordia scored the final eight points of the half to grab the lead for good, 44-38, at intermission. The Bulldogs then scored the first six points of the second half, behind the play of sophomore post Philomena Lammers, for a 50-38 advantage.
The Red Raiders fell behind by as many as 18 (65-47) late in the third quarter but made one last charge, cutting the Concordia lead down to 10 after a Maneman three-pointer at the 5:27 mark.The Bulldogs, however, scored the next four points and Northwestern would not get closer than eight, on a three-point play by Haley Birks with 1:06 left, the rest of the way.
Northwestern shot 39% for the game, limited to 27% in the decisive third quarter when they were outscored 21-12. In addition to the two seniors, Maneman and Danner, Kassidy De Jong scored 15 points and 10 rebounds for her fourth straight and 11th double-double of the season. Birks (14pts) and Darbi Gustafson (12pts, 5 reb.) were also in double figures. Northwestern had a big edge on the boards, 47-38, pulling down 22 on the offensive end.
Renee Maneman led Northwestern with 19 points and nine assists, one shy of another double-double, to close out her brilliant career. Paige Danner, another Red Raider senior, had the hot hand in the second half, draining a pair of three-pointers on her way to 11 points in her final game.
Lammers led Concordia with 23 points and nine rebounds, followed by Quinn Wragge with 17. MacKenzie Helman provided the perimeter scoring with 13 points, draining a trio of three-pointers. The Bulldogs shot 50% for the game and made 13 free throws in 21 attempts.
This marks the final game for the two Red Raider seniors, Paige Danner and Renee Maneman. See below for career numbers and rank:
Northwestern closes the season with a 25-9 record and are now 6-4 in the national semifinals.
Danner-771pts (44th), 138 3pters, 216 rebounds, 135 assists, 92 steals
Maneman-1,033pts (T29), 32 3pters, 793 assists (1st), 204 steals (11th), 542 rebounds (T26th)