(KCBD) - Information courtesy of Wayland Baptist Athletics
After suffering an eight-point loss to John Brown University in early January, the No. 5-ranked Wayland Baptist Flying Queens fought hard to redeem themselves Saturday afternoon in Hutcherson Center, and they did it with a 67-60 victory over the Golden Eagles to round out their regular-season.
"I was really proud of our kids today," Wayland coach Alesha Ellis said. "Our intensity level was right where it needed to be from the very beginning of the game."
Depending on a game Sunday (postponed from Friday) between Oklahoma City and Texas Wesleyan, the Queens (23-5, 16-4 SAC) will finish as the No. 2 or 3 seed in the Sooner Athletic Conference standings. Regardless, Wayland will host a first-round game – against Southwestern Assemblies of God or Bacone – at 6 p.m. Tuesday, prior to the Pioneers' first-round game at 8.
If the Flying Queens win Tuesday they advance to the conference tournament final four at John Brown in Siloam Springs, Ark. Semifinals are at 1 & 3 p.m. Friday with the championship set for 1 p.m. Saturday.
The Queens went into Saturday's game against John Brown with energy and intensity, but the Golden Eagles (18-11, 12-8) didn't back down from the challenge. After being tied at 20 at the conclusion of the first quarter, the Golden Eagles – who led by as many as five in the first period – managed to head into halftime with 34-33 lead.
"I know we were down by one at half, but I felt good about it," Ellis said.
Wayland came out of halftime strong and grabbed the lead when Maci Merket hit a jumper, but the lead changed hands three times in a close third quarter. The Queens outscored JBU in the third, 18-14, to put them ahead by three heading into the final 10 minutes.
The visitors from Arkansas managed to tie it at 53, but the Queens never gave up the lead. It was 59-58 with when Wayland got back-to-back 3-pointers from Kelea Pool and Merket. The Flying Queens' defense also stepped up, allowing the Golden Eagles just two points in the final 4:50.
Merket led all scorers with 19 points, making 4-of-8 3-point shots. Although she was the only Flying Queen to score in double digits, others came close, including senior Gabby Gonzales, who hit 3-of-7 3s to finish with nine points. Deborah VanDijk added eight and Morgan Bennett seven.
Wayland hit 26-of-65 (40 percent) of its shots overall, while JBU finished 22-of-49 (45 percent). Both teams went 6-of-8 (75 percent) from the free-throw line in the game that saw just 22 fouls called – only nine on Wayland.
JBU came into the game leading the NAIA in 3-pointers per game with 11. After getting eight in the first half, the Golden Eagles went 2-of-7 in the second half.
"We had to contain their 3-point shots. Our defense was strong and we tried to put some pressure on them full court, which we didn't do last time. We went man-to-man switching everything, which I think is what put us ahead," Ellis said.
JBU got 17 points and 14 rebounds from Cameron Baily and 10 from Kimmy Deines.
After committing 28 turnovers in Thursday's 73-55 win over Bacone, the Flying Queens only had 10 against JBU, while the Golden Eagles suffered 25.
"We did a much better job of taking care of the ball and minimizing our turnovers today, which made a huge difference," Ellis said.