Sioux City, IA – It’s no easy task to see the two-time defending NAIA DII Women’s Basketball National Champions on the floor as your next opponent but the Hastings College women’s basketball team put together a game plan and executed it to perfection. The Broncos were able to shut down the Knights and come away with the 62-45 on Friday night in the Tyson Events Center to advance to the quarterfinals.
“Yes, it’s awesome! Shandra Farmer (SO/Hastings, NE) said with a big smile when asked about knocking off the two-time defending champs. “It’s weird because they are right across the hall from us in our hotel so we’ve been seeing them like all around. We scouted them real hard and every one was just locked in.”
It was a game plan that began to show it’s face early on in the contest as the Broncos built a six point lead after one quarter of play. Hastings was starting to frustrate the Knights on the offensive end holding Marian to just 18 percent shooting in the first quarter.
With Hastings leading 22-17, the Broncos would rattle off seven of the next nine points with Shandra Farmer scoring on an old fashioned 3-point play. Moments later, Farmer attacket the rack for another layup and Rachel Jelden (SR/Holdrege, NE) finished the half off with a layup from the low block off the Mackenzie Willicott (JR/Blue Hill, NE) dish. Hastings held the 29-19 lead while holding the Knights to just 25 percent shooting for the half.
“So coming in especially playing the back-to-back national champions, we had to just pressure them for 40 minutes,” Farmer said. “They have a lot of guards that are their top girls that play a lot of minutes and when you wear people down it makes it tough to make shots because your legs get tired and even on the defensive end it’s hard to stay in defensive stance and lock people down.”
The game plan and that mentality seemed to be working as the Broncos would not let up going into the second half.
The Broncos seemed to be able to sense this game was going to go its way building a 14 point lead heading into the 4th quarter. The Broncos were getting tremendous support from Emma Grenfell (SO/York, NE) as she finished with a game high 4 steals.
“Emma had it tonight. Very rarely is Emma not into it so I think she was ready to go tonight, the team was ready to go tonight obviously,” Head Coach Jina Douglas siad. “Emma may not score 15-20 a game but she gets her hands on balls defensively, she’s a pest on the defensive end, she’s really smart and she had another really good game tonight for us.”
Hastings ended up holding Marian to just 30 percent shooting. Douglas contributed that success to playing in such a tough conference like the Great Plains Athletic Conference. “It has a lot of really good teams and that’s probably why I didn’t get much sleep the past few months,” Douglas continued. “It’s a tough game night in and night out in the GPAC and I think it’s kind of proved it in the tournament. It’s every night you have to be ready to play but I think that helps you in the national tournament because you have seen every style you could possibly see.”
Farmer led the Broncos with 14 points on 6-of-16 shooting. Jelden had a fantastic night scoring 10 points on a perfect 5-for-5 shooting while pulling down nine boards. Willicott added 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting and also pulled down nine boards.
Hastings dominated the paint by out scoring the Knights 52-to-18. Jelden along with the rest of her team were just not ready to see their season come to an end.
“I’m just not ready for my senior or career to be over and I think everyone feels the same but we’ll definitely carry this energy as I think we came out really locked in, I mean you could just tell we don’t want to go home yet.” Jelden said.
Last year’s national tournament MVP Joana Soeiro was held to just five points on 1-for-17 shooting while Kellie Kirkhoff didn’t get her sixth and ninth point till late in the 4th.
“Their two guards are so good, their point guard and their wing we felt like they run so many sets and they are so good in their man so we were going to switch it up between man and zone to take away their tendencies,” Douglas said. “Their point guard is great going to her right, great passer going to her right, great finisher going to her right so we tried to take away her right hand as much as possible. For the most part it worked, sometimes we over played it a little too much and you know honestly she probably missed a few shots that she normally makes so that helped us out as well but I thought our kids did a really good job of just sticking to the game plan, playing it out throughout the whole game and sticking with it.”
All night long, you could see Farmer, Grenfell or whom ever was guarding Soeiro really over defended her right hand to make her go left which really took her out of her game.
Sheets finished with seven points while Menke added six points.
Hastings finished the game shooting 50 percent (28-for-56) from the floor including 60 percent (15-for-25) in the second half. The Broncos also held a 22-to-5 advantage in points on the bench.
Hastings improves to 26-6 on the year and will gace Saint Xavier Saturday March 10 in the quarterfinal with tip-off set for 8:00 p.m. in the Tyson Events Center. The Cougars fended off a furious Morningside rally to defeat the Mustangs 84-71.