Unbeaten Queens top national runners-up in Hawaii

Unbeaten Queens top national runners-up in Hawaii
Source: Wayland Baptist Athletics

Provided by Wayland Baptist Athletics

KAILUA, Hawaii – Wayland Baptist rallied from a 13-point deficit and ended the game on a 26-9 run as the fifth-ranked Flying Queens defeated St. Xavier, Ill., in the first game of the Maliki Sports Hoop 'N Surf Classic here Tuesday morning, 84-77.

The win over the top-ranked team in NAIA Division II kept Wayland undefeated on the season after eight games. It was the first loss of the season after 10 wins for St. Xavier, last year's Division II national runner-up.

Morgan Bennett, the NAIA's assists leader, scored a career-high 22 points to lead Wayland. She hit 5-of-7 3-pointers and 5-of-6 free throws, plus had four assists and four rebounds.

Senior Jada Riley also put in a career-high with 18 points, her best performance since her freshman year. Riley, who was 8-of-12 from the field, also had four steals, four rebounds and three assists.

Maci Merket tacked on 16 points while Nina Sato finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds, her second double-double of the season.

St. Xavier got 33 points from Kara Krolicki, 20 points and 15 rebounds from Brittany Collins, and 12 points from Maddie Welter.

Wayland held a 46-35 rebounding edge – including 12-3 on the offensive end – and outscored St. Xavier's bench, 15-2.

The Flying Queens fell behind 21-11 but scored the last seven points of the first quarter to pull to within 21-18.

St. Xavier established a 46-33 lead late in the second period and was up a dozen at halftime, but the Flying Queens got right back in thanks to an 8-0 run to start the third. However, by the end of the quarter Wayland trailed again by double digits, 63-53.

The fourth quarter was all Wayland, or at least the last eight minutes.

Trailing 68-58 with 8:06 showing, Wayland scored 10 unanswered points to kick off its impressive 26-9 game-ending surge. A 3-pointer by Bennett with just under four minutes to play put the Flying Queens up 71-70, their first lead since the midway point of the first quarter.

Krolicki made a free throw to tie it up, but Merket answered with a pair of foul shots and Wayland never trailed again.

St. Xavier was within two at 76-74 with 1:39 left, but Riley made a layup before Merket scored five in a row, including a traditional 3-point play that put the Queens up by nine with 44 seconds to go.

Wayland's second and final game will be played at 1 p.m. Thursday (not Wednesday as originally scheduled) against third-ranked Campbellsville, Ky.