SIOUX CITY, Iowa – Top-seeded Saint Francis (Ind.) kept its unbeaten record intact and advanced to a second-straight quarterfinals with a 83-59 victory against No. 4 Siena Heights (Mich.) Friday at the 2014 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship, presented by State Farm.
Senior guard and Crossroads League Player of the Year Skylarr Shurn was dominant once again with a game-high 27 points. The Kokomo, Ind., native scored 15 of her 27 points at the free throw line en route to her 30th double figure scoring effort of the season and 18th in the last 19 games. Sophomore forward Brooke Ridley also had an impressive performance, recording her second-straight and 10th double-double of the year with 21 points and 14 boards.
The Cougars, who are the NAIA’s only remaining unbeaten team at 35-0, never trailed in the game. Siena Heights managed to cut its deficit to three, 27-24, on Alexxis Knannlein’s layup with 4:41 left in the half. Shurn and Ridley combined for five quick free throws for Saint Francis, who maintained at-least an eight-point advantage the remainder of the half.
Saint Francis scored the first 12 points of the second half to push its lead out to 48-28 with 17:27 remaining. The Cougars cruised through the remainder of the contest, outscoring Siena Heights, 35-31, the rest of the way.
In two games at this year’s national championships, Saint Francis boasts a 22-point average margin of victory, which is due in large part to winning the battle at the free throw line. The Cougars outscored Siena Heights 30-8 at the foul line and converted 13 more baskets than were attempted by the Saints.
For the game, Saint Francis shot 39.1 percent (25-for-64).
Siena Heights was led in scoring by senior guard Grace Howrigon’s 20 points. Knannlein was another bright spot for the Saints, recording a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
With the loss, Siena Heights ends the year with a 26-9 record. The Saints were appearing in their first-ever national championship second round game.