FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The No. 17-ranked and second-seeded Indiana Tech women’s basketball team saw its run in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) Tournament come to an end on Saturday afternoon at the Schaefer Center and they were upended by No. 22-ranked and third-seeded Siena Heights, 72-69, in a semifinal contest.
In a game that featured six ties and six lead changes, the Warriors found themselves trailing early as the Saints would get out to a 9-2 lead, with just over three and a half minutes gone in the game, but Tech would rally back to the game at 12 at the 3:46 mark in the first quarter. Siena Heights would answer with an 8-2 spurt, but Taylor Seiss would hit a three to end the period and cut the deficit to 20-19 at the first intermission.
The Warriors would find themselves in an unusual situation in the second quarter, as both Haley Cook and Seiss would get injured in the first, but coach Jessie Biggs would find the right combination of players throughout the period as the hosts trailed just 37-34 at the half, with Kendall Knapke and Baylee Rinehart combining for 14 of the team’s 15 points.
The backcourt duo would both start the third quarter, only adding to the drama of the semifinal as the visitors would extend their lead to 45-35 with a 8-0 run to start the second half, and all eight points coming in the paint. A 10-2 run from the Warriors though, would bring them to within two points and 49-47 with 4:11 to go in the third as Siena Heights would call a timeout to regroup, and the visitors would finish the period strong and took a 57-53 lead into the final 10 minutes of regulation.
Tech would turn to Keanna Gary in the fourth quarter as the WHAC Player and Newcomer of the Year would score 11 of her 24 points in the final period, as she hit a pair of free throws to cut the Saints lead to one at 65-64 with 4:06 remaining in the game, but the Saints would outlast the Orange and Black down the stretch to claim the WHAC’s second automatic qualifying bid to the NAIA Division II National Championship, as regular season champion Davenport also won their semifinal game to reach the tournament championship contest.
Gary finished with a team-high 24 points, with 10 of her points coming from the free throw line while grabbing five rebounds. Taylor Seiss finished her last game on Kline Court with 21 points while Knapke added 12 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Tech (25-7) will now wait to see if they will receive an at-large bid to the NAIA National Championship, with the national qualifiers and bracket being announced on Wednesday, March 1, by the national office. The Selection Show will be broadcast live at NAIANetwork.com at 6 p.m. EST.