• Patrick Engels

D2 Women's Tournament Recap

In the weeks ahead, we will discuss the transfer portal, roster overhauls, and which teams are in the best shape heading into the fall. For now, though, let’s look back at the Division-II women’s basketball tournament — from the shocking upsets to the heart-stopping finishes.

 

Biggest Upsets:

 

1) No. 8 Daemen over No. 1 Southern New Hampshire

 

While the top-seeded Penmen entered the first-round contest as the heavy favorite, the roles appeared to be reversed in this matchup. After trailing by just two points at the half, Daemen delivered a masterful second-half performance, outscoring the Penman 47-34 and holding their opponent to just 38.7 percent shooting. The Wildcats’ dominant second half was spearheaded by redshirt senior guard Tiara Filbert, who erupted for 17 of her game-high 27 points in the second period and set the program-record for most points in an NCAA tournament game. The Daemen victory marked the first time a No. 8 seed defeated the top seed in the East Region since 2015, when Holy Family knocked off Adelphi 84-79.

  

2) No. 7 Missouri Western over No. 1 Fort Hays State

 

As Fort Hays State took a 38-17 lead with just 2:04 left in the second quarter, it looked as if the clock had struck midnight for the Central Region Cinderellas. However, the Griffons had other plans. Trailing by just one point with twelve seconds left in the contest, Missouri Western took a 70-69 lead off a driving layup by Brionna Budgetts, giving the sophomore guard her first points of the game and the Griffons the shocking upset victory. Budgetts’ game-winning layup sent the Griffons to their first elite eight appearance in 27 years, where they would fall to Grand Valley State 67-44.

 

3) No. 7 Valdosta State over No. 1 Union

 

After falling to Union 59-56 on January 22, the Lady Blazers avenged their loss in convincing fashion in the South Regional Final, defeating the favored Bulldogs 66-58 to send the program to its first elite eight since 1984. Head coach Deandra Schirmer’s team punched their ticket to the elite eight due to a stout defensive performance. Although the top-seeded Bulldogs entered the NCAA tournament leading the nation with a 39.8 three-point field goal percentage, Valdosta State held Union to just 28 percent shooting from beyond the arc, their fourth-lowest percentage of the season. Leading the Lady Blazers on defense was graduate center Kwajelin Farrar, who controlled the paint with two blocks and a steal to go along with her team-high 19 points.

 

Top Performers:

 

1) Zakiyah Winfield: Glenville State

 

After leading Glenville State in scoring throughout the regular season, Winfield continued to spearhead the Pioneers’ offense through their six-game title run. The junior guard helped earn the program’s first-ever national championship by averaging a team-high 19.5 points a game on an efficient 54.9 percent shooting in the tournament. Winfield’s production did not stop with scoring, however, as she added 7.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists a contest. The Reading, Pennsylvania, native’s dynamic play was capped by an impressive 23-point, seven-rebound and two-assist performance in the championship game vs. Western Washington — a statline that helped earn her a spot on the all-tournament team.

  

2) Sadie Moyer: Texas Woman’s

 

Although Moyer played in just two tournament games, the junior guard made her presence felt in the big dance, averaging 27 points a contest and earning a selection on the South Central Regional All-Tournament Team. The Pioneers star, who led the region in scoring, displayed her offensive prowess by shooting 56 percent from the field and going a perfect 22-22 from the charity strike. Moyer netted a game-high 26 points and three assists in Texas Woman’s 90-83 overtime victory over Metropolitan State University-Denver, sending the Pioneers to their first regional semifinal in program history.

 

3) Emma Duff: Western Washington

 

Leading the Vikings to their first-ever National Championship Game appearance, Duff capped her collegiate career with a memorable six-game performance. The senior guard, who finished the tournament at 10th place on the program’s all-time scoring list with 1,346 points scored, averaged 15 points and 8.8 rebounds a contest. Duff also recorded two double-doubles, tied for third-most in the entire tournament. Duff’s versatile play was showcased in Western Washington’s 73-59 West Regional Final victory over No. 1 seed Cal State East Bay. In 35 minutes played, the Tumwater, Washington, native stuffed the stat sheets with a team-high 16 points and 14 rebounds along with three assists, a block and a steal.

 

Best games

1) Lander v North Georgia

 

This South Regional Final treated fans to a back-and-forth affair between two Division-II powerhouses. After North Georgia jumped out to a commanding 13-point lead at halftime, Lander responded with an onslaught of their own, outscoring the Nighthawks 25-7 to hold a 46-41 edge heading into the final period. With Lander holding onto a five-point lead with just 2:56 to play, momentum shifted in the Nighthawks’ favor for the final time. Capped by a game-winning put-back layup by senior forward Julianne Sutton with 20 seconds left in the game, North Georgia embarked on a 7-0 run to close the game and come away with the thrilling 59-57 victory.


2) Gannon v. Shepherd

 

In a game that featured 13 ties, 13 lead changes, 41 turnovers and two overtimes, this Atlantic Region first-round bout had a little bit of everything. Although Gannon dominated the first half and held a 43-31 lead at the intermission, the second half was close throughout, resulting in a dramatic double-overtime finish. Trailing 75-73 with 44 seconds left in the fourth period, Shepherd graduate forward Sydney Clayton knotted the score at 75 with a layup, sending the game to overtime. Following a low-scoring first overtime, the Rams showed another flair for the dramatic in the second extra period. Facing a one-point deficit with just 58 seconds remaining, junior guard Abby Beeman connected on a driving layup to put the Rams ahead, clinching the double-overtime victory and sending Shepherd to the second round. Beeman’s game-winning layup ended a historic night for the All-American, as the junior finished with 34 points, 13 assists, eight rebounds and eight steals.

 

3) West Texas A&M vs. Lubbock Christian

 

The South Central Regional Championship saw West Texas A&M dethrone the two-time reigning national champion Lady Chaps in a low-scoring and tight affair. In their fourth meeting of the year, the Lady Chaps and Lady Buffs were within single digits of each other throughout the entire game, with the largest lead coming at just nine points at the 7:51 mark of the second quarter. Although head coach Josh Prock’s team held a slight advantage for most of the game, things tightened up late in the fourth quarter when the Lady Chaps trimmed the deficit to just one point at the 50 second mark. However, a layup by freshman forward Jayla Burgess and two free-throws by Karley Motschenbacher put West Texas A&M up five with 20 seconds remaining, a lead it would hold onto en route to an eighth regional championship.


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