MCPHERSON, KANSAS: The Grace University women's basketball team competed against host team Central Christian College on Wednesday, March 7, in the first round of the NCCAA Division 1 Central Region Tournament. Previously this season, the Royals beat the Central Christian Tigers 83-73; this time, the Royals won 84-76 to progress to the second of three rounds in the regional tournament. The game improved Grace's season record to 17-13, while Central Christian fell to 1-28.
The Royals started the game with a 10-1 run in the first two and a half minutes of the game. The Tigers brought the game back within 4 points at 10-6 with just under 6 minutes left in the quarter, but the Royals held onto their lead, increasing it to as many as 14 points with two minutes left in the quarter. By the end of the first quarter, the Royals were up 26-15. In the second quarter, the Royals kept their lead at 9 points or more, building it up to 15 points at 45-30 by halftime.
In the second half, the Tigers rallied for a 7-0 run in the first 3 minutes to bring the score to 45-38. The two teams exchanged baskets for the next several minutes, with the Royals holding onto their lead until the last two minutes when the Tigers rallied for a 10-2 run to bring the score to 62-61. A last-second 3-pointer from the Royals gave them a 4-point lead going into the fourth quarter. In the fourth quarter, the Royals slowly built up their lead, increasing it to as many as 9 points at 76-67 with four minutes left in the game. The Royals made 4 free throws in the last minute of the game to hold onto their lead and win the game 84-76.
The Royals shot 35.2% from the field (25 of 71), 35.7% from the 3-point line (10 of 28), and 64.9% from the free throw line (24 of 37), while the Tigers should 32.2% from the field (29 of 90), 16.1% from the 3-point line (5 of 31), and 56.5% from the free throw line (13 of 23). The Royals has 7 points off turnovers, 17 second-chance points, and 15 bench points. The Tigers had 16 points off turnovers, 15 second-chance points, and 11 bench points. The Royals had 56 rebounds, 17 assists, 7 blocks, and 5 steals, while the Tigers had 57 rebounds, 13 assists, 5 blocks, and 7 steals.
Marisa Brown led the Royals with her ninth double-double of the season with 23 points, 26 rebounds, and 4 blocks, a season-high for points and a career-high for rebounds. Karen Orozco had 23 points, and Darielle Evans had 15 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds. Jasmine White had 8 points and 4 rebounds, and Majesty Pelletier had 7 points. Alyssa Strickland had 6 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists.
Two of the Tigers scored in double digits, led by Holly Golden with 25 points and 19 rebounds. Abbie Banks had 22 points.
UP NEXT: The Royals will continue to the semifinals of their regional tournament with a game against the Mid-America Christian University Evangels on Thursday, March 8, at 7 p.m. at Central Christian College in McPherson, Kansas.
By Loretta Gamboe, SID Staff