drive in the final seconds
Mo. - The last time Northern Kentucky University and Michigan Tech
met in women’s basketball, the Norse pulled out a last-second
victory in the early rounds of the NCAA Tournament that ignited
their run to the 2000 Division II national championship.
That was March
10, 2000, as NKU edged Michigan Tech, 60-59, at Highland Heights,
years later to the very day, the two teams squared off again in
the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Region Tournament on Friday. And
this one also came down to the last shot of the game.
layup with 3.9 seconds remaining in the game was the difference
as NKU pulled out a 67-66 win over Michigan Tech. The Norse survived
a desperation 45-footer by Catherine Rottier that missed at the
buzzer to improve to 27-4 and advance to Saturday’s 7 p.m.
(EST) semifinals against Grand Valley State in Weiser Gym.
(19-9) had taken a 66-65 lead with 11 seconds remaining when Amanda
Sieja powered in for a basket. NKU hustled the ball up the floor,
and Nicole Chiodi drove into the lane.
Creager cutting to the basket along the left baseline and delivered
a perfect pass. Creager finished the play with the basket that gave
NKU a 67-66 advantage with 3.9 seconds on the clock.
take (a layup) any day,” NKU head coach Nancy Winstel said
of Creager’s basket. “A layup is always an option. Nicole
Chiodi advanced the ball up the floor, Karyn took the ball and she
had enough sense to take it to the basket and not even really think
made a great play. It might have been one of the easiest baskets
we had all day.”
with 3.9 seconds left on the clock
easy the entire game against the physical Michigan Tech defense,
which continually denied NKU from getting the ball inside. The Huskies
rallied from an early 15-10 deficit to take a 33-30 halftime lead
behind the inside play of Seija and the shooting of both Rottier
and Jenna Bartels.
“I thought Michigan
Tech played great. They were fired up and ready to go,” Winstel
said. “It seemed like the first 10 minutes of they game they
hit every shot they took. I was hoping they would cool off.
was great, and I felt like our energy stepped up as the game went
on. It’s the NCAA Tournament, and people are going to come
ready to play.”
The teams battled back
and forth in the second half until a 7-0 run gave NKU a 60-54 lead
with 4:57 remaining on an Angela Healy basket. Michigan Tech responded
as Sarah Magee and Rottier each drained 3-pointers to tie the game
at 60-all with 2:54 left.
“It was frustrating,”
NKU forward Karmen Graham said of the Michigan Tech comeback. “It
seemed like there for a while every shot they took, they made. They
have a really good team.”
Creager connected on
a 3-pointer from the left corner with 2:36 remaining to give NKU
a 63-60 lead. After Sieja made it 63-62 with a basket, Healy again
hit a short jumper to extend the Norse’s lead to 65-62 with
Rottier, though, converted
a driving layup with 47 seconds on the clock to make it a 65-64
NKU advantage. After Brittany Winner missed a jumper, Michigan Tech
rebounded and found Sieja inside. She converted the shot, setting
the stage for Creager’s winning basket.
On its last possession,
Michigan Tech inbounded the ball to Rottier. She drove down the
right sideline, cut back to the middle of the floor and launched
a shot just over midcourt that fell short and off to the left, allowing
third-seeded NKU to advance to the regional semifinals against second-seeded
Grand Valley State.
(center) fights for position
“We talked about
fouling Michigan Tech since we only had the four team fouls at the
end,” Winstel said. “We just told our kids we’re
in a man-to-man. We really didn’t want to trap because if
you trap, then somebody can pass out of it and hit somebody for
a wide-open shot.
“So, we were really
in a full-court man-to-man, and we going to switch on everything.
If you felt like you were beat, you were to foul and don’t
give up a layup. In the (Great Lakes Valley Conference) Tournament
(against Kentucky Wesleyan), Drury went the length of the floor
and scored on a layup because that kid just raced up the floor.
I envisioned Rottier doing the same thing. When she did shoot it,
I thought it was off.”
“But, until it
left her hand, you obviously knew it was going to go to her, and
I thought we did as good as we could do defending it,” Winstel
added, “but, it’s March and it’s madness, and
shots like that go in.”
Rottier scored 25 points
to lead Michigan Tech on 11-for-17 shooting from the field. She
also made a trio of 3-point shots and had five assists.
Sieja, a powerful 6-foot-2
post player, finished with 18 points. Bartels added 12 points off
the bench for the Huskies, who shot 46.4 percent from the field
and committed just seven turnovers.
Graham led NKU with
13 points, and Cassie Brannen added 10 points off the bench. The
Norse shot 57.8 percent from the field and made 84.6 percent of
their free throws. Katie Butler finished with nine points, while
Winner had eight points, seven rebounds and two assists.
Nicole Chiodi scored
six points - all in the second half - and led NKU with five assists,
including the feed to Creager for the winning basket.
“I thought a major
difference in our game was that Nicole got really aggressive offensively
and put the ball on the floor and made plays in the second half,”
Winstel said. “She had a couple layups, she attacked the basket,
and she drove and kicked.
“This is the first
time this group has ever been in the NCAA. We played two years ago
at Quincy and lost by two in the first game, so this is kind of
uncharted waters for them.”
NKU and Michigan Tech
have now played three times in women’s basketball, all during
the NCAA Tournament. NKU is 3-0, but the Norse have won those three
games by a total of four points.
In 1999, Michelle Cottrell
scored at the buzzer after grabbing an offensive rebound to give
NKU a 65-63 win. That is the largest margin of victory in the series.