Unbeaten George Fox (Ore.) University
used a sizzling outside shooting performance Friday night to reach its
first NCAA Division III women's basketball championship game,
defeating The College of New Jersey, 67-52, in a national semifinal
game at DeVos Fieldhouse.
The Bruins (31-0) tied an NCAA tournament record with
14 3-point baskets in advancing to the 1 p.m. championship game
Saturday against Washington University of St. Louis (26-4), a 65-49
winner over Amherst (Mass.) College earlier Friday. The game will be
telecast on CBS College Sports and the audio broadcast can be heard on
the Internet at D3hoops.com.
George Fox, which has 10 freshmen on its 14-player
roster, broke open a close game early in the second half on the
strength of its deadly long-range shooting. Freshman Sage Indendi, who
led all scorers with 23 points, hit three of her six 3-pointers during
a 23-9 outburst that gave the Bruins a 57-35 lead with 14 minutes
remaining. TCNJ got no closer than 15 points the rest of the way.
"Once again, this young, young team didn't play young," George Fox coach Scott Rueck said. "They came out and competed from the beginning, like basketball players. Age didn't matter. It was another opportunity to go out and take on a challenge, and they met it."
Led by senior center Hillary Klimowicz, honored
Thursday as the national Division III player of the year by the
Women's Basketball Coaches Association, TCNJ (27-5) jumped out to an
early 7-3 lead, with Klimowicz scoring two baskets and Nicole Diaz
hitting a 3-point basket.
But the Bruins began to assert themselves, taking the
lead for the first time at 10-9 five minutes into the game, and for
good at 23-20 on Arianna Mohsenian's 3-point basket with five minutes
left in the half. Another 3-pointer, this one by Indendi, at the first
half buzzer gave the Bruins a 34-26 lead heading into the locker room
"We needed a dagger, and that gave us some momentum
going into the second half," Indendi said.
The Bruins shot 40 percent from the field (22 of 55)
for the game, but made 14 of 28 from 3-point range for 50 percent. The
14 3-pointers tied a tournament mark set in 2004 by Hardin-Simmons
(Texas) and matched in 2006 by Bridgewater (Va.).
George Fox also outrebounded the Lions 40-30 and
blocked six shots, five of them by 6-foot-4 center Kristen Shielee.
"We knew that Hillary was going to be handful on the
inside, and it kind of went as I hoped," Rueck said. "Kristen did a
great job slowing her down, making her take 19 shots to get her 19
points ... and I thought the rest of our team did a great job locking
down on the perimeter and staying with their shooters."
The Lions shot 38 percent from the field (21 of 55),
but made only 2 of 12 on 3-pointers.
"Certainly, George Fox is a great team. They've got
good balance," TCNJ coach Dawn Henderson said. "I think we played a
little timid in the face of their pressure. They did the things they
normally do, and we didn't do the things we do normally."
Shielee, George Fox's lone senior, added 15 points and
nine rebounds, and freshman Keisha Gordon added 12 points, including
three 3-pointers. Klimowicz led TCNJ with 19 points and nine rebounds,
and Kelsey Kutch added 14 points.
The Lions will play in the 10 a.m. third place game
against Amherst (29-3).