SIOUX CITY, Iowa – (Box Score) No. 14 Briar Cliff (Iowa) shook off a cold-shooting first half to come back and upset No. 5 College of the Ozarks (Mo.), 80-67, in the second round of the 2013 State Farm-NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championships on Friday.
The Chargers erased a nine-point deficit by getting on a roll coming out of the locker room at halftime.
Behind an electric hometown crowd, Briar Cliff (25-9) came back from a 28-23 halftime deficit by tallying the first seven points of the frame. The Chargers spread the ball around beautifully as four players notched at least 10 points: Mattie Murren (17), Kelsey Evans (13), Slone Masters (12) and Sara Reeves (10).
The loss means the end of the career of College of the Ozarks’ All-American in senior center Morgan Smith, who put up 40 points in the Bobcats’ overtime victory over Milligan (Tenn.) on Thursday. Smith fouled out with just under five minutes to play. She finished the game with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Emily Walker tried to pick up the slack with Smith held to half of her season scoring average. Walker posted a game high 25 points, aided by 16-for-16 free throw shooting.
The story of the night was Briar Cliff’s drastic offensive improvement in the second half. The Chargers improved their shooting percentage from 26.5 in the first half to 46.9 in the second. They also were able to ice the game by drilling 23 of 29 second-half free throws.
Briar Cliff heads to the round of eight for the second-straight year and for the third time in the past four seasons under head coach Mike Power. The victory also marked the 20th in school history at the national tournament.
Even with 29 combined national tournament appearances between the two teams, Friday’s matchup was the first national tournament meeting ever between Briar Cliff and College of the Ozarks.
The Chargers will take on the winner between No. 4 Indiana Wesleyan and No. 19 Grand View (Iowa) at 6 p.m. on Saturday.
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