BILLINGS, Mont. (Wayland Baptist University release) – Our Lady of the Lake University hit a 3-pointer with 2.4 seconds left as the 12th-ranked Saints knocked off No. 7 Wayland Baptist in the second round of the NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championships here Friday night, 96-93.
Wayland, which defeated OLLU by 24 points in the second game of the season, led by as many as 11, 38-27, early in the second quarter, but the Saints scored 11 straight to get right back in it. The Flying Queens stayed on top, going up by as many as nine in the third period, before another run by OLLU tied it early in the fourth.
The Saints took their first lead since late in the first with just under seven minutes to go. They went up by as many as five, 83-78, when Wayland – after losing its floor general, junior Morgan Bennett, to five fouls at the 5:18 mark – went on a 13-4 run. Capped by a 3-pointer by Kambrey Blakey, the run saw Wayland regain the upper-hand, 91-87, with 3:13 left.
Wayland suffered a couple of costly turnovers that helped the Saints score four in a row to knot it at 91 with 1:18 showing, when the Queens saw another starter, Blakey, go to the bench with five fouls. Another Wayland turnover led to OLLU taking the lead, but Wayland worked the ball inside to Deborah VanDijk, who connected and was fouled with 18 seconds left.
VanDijk missed her free throw but Maci Merket grabbed the rebound for Wayland. Merket, who led all scorers with a career-high 30 points while nailing a career-best seven 3-pointers, went back up but missed, and OLLU grabbed the rebound and called timeout with 15 ticks to go.
The Saints drained all but two seconds off the clock when Mikki Flores nailed a 3-pointer. Flores, a 5-foot-1 senior guard from San Antonio, had scored just three points up until then, and it was her first made 3 of the game after three misses. OLLU made just three 3s as a team the entire game, ending up 3-of-15 (20 percent).
With just two seconds with which to work, Wayland turned to Merket, its lone senior, for a prayer, but it went unanswered at the buzzer.
Wayland’s season ends with a 29-6 record, one win shy of what would have been its first 30-win season since 1990.
OLLU improves to 27-6 and advances to the quarterfinals on Saturday, possibly against Campbellsville, Ky., the No. 1 seed in the quadrant. Wayland was seeded second; OLLU is seeded third.
After turning over the ball just three times in Thursday’s 83-38 first-round win over William Jessup (Calif.), Wayland was hurt by 21 giveaways. OLLU turned it over 13 times.
The Flying Queens also uncharacteristically struggled at the free-throw line, where they were 13-of-24 (54 percent). Wayland shot well from long range, hitting 16-of-35 3s (46 percent) while going 32-of-77 (42 percent) overall from the field.
Besides 30 for Merket, who ends her career with 1,455 points to rank an impressive 12th on the Flying Queens’ all-time scoring list, Wayland got 18 points from Kaylee Edgemon, 13 from freshman Payton Brown, and 12 from junior Deborah VanDijk, who will enter next season with 986 points.
Wayland was credited with 25 assists, nine by Bennett, while Merket pulled down a team-high 11 rebounds for her eighth double-double of the season, and 14th of her career. Freshman Cailyn Breckel finished with nine rebounds to go with eight points.
OLLU, which leads the NAIA in scoring at 91.7 points per game and ranks fourth in 3-point shooting, outscored Wayland by 22 points at the free-throw line, hitting 35-of-42 (83 percent). It marked the first time in seven years a team attempted more than 40 free throws at the national tournament.
The Saints were 3-of-15 (20 percent) from beyond the arc and 29-of-70 (41 percent) overall.
The Saints had three players score more than 20 points: Lena Wilson with 25, Destinee King with 22 and Patience Okpe with 21. King had 13 rebounds, while Regina Sheffield pulled down 10.
Wayland outrebounded OLLU, 47-46.
The series between the Saints and Wayland is now tied, 4-4.