*This story was posted to MyNAIATourney.org on March 12, 2015.
No. 1 seed Saint Xavier University cruised in their first round matchup against No. 8 seed Oregon Institute of Technology by a score of 79-50 in the NAIA DII Women’s National Basketball Tournament. A number of players carried the load for the Cougars, with four different players in double figures. The win pushes Saint Xavier’s overall first round record to 2-1, while Oregon Tech remains winless in first round games.
Saint Xavier Head Coach Bob Hallberg was impressed with how his team played tonight.
“I thought we came out shooting the ball well and our intensity level was up a bit,” Hallberg said. “I thought we came out with the intensity level we were capable of on both ends of the floor, so it was a good victory.”
The Cougars high-scoring offense, which averages over 87 points per game, clicked early, jumping out to a 7-0 lead in the first three minutes. After an Oregon Tech timeout, Saint Xavier continued to push their lead to 12 about midway through the first half.
Saint Xavier shot an impressive 56 percent from the field on 36 shots while receiving offensive contributions from a number of players in the first half. Junior forward Caitlin McMahon led the Cougars with 13 points and four rebounds in the half. Freshman guard Kara Krolicki added nine points and five rebounds, while senior Morgan Stuut added eight points and seven rebounds of her own.
The Cougar defense kept the Hustlin’ Owls offense in check, limiting them to just 25 percent shooting on 28 shots in the first half. Junior forward Tess Armstrong dropped six points in the half, while junior Karly LeVeque added six points and three rebounds of her own for Oregon Tech.
The second half was much of the same story for the Cougars, with McMahon continuing to maker her presence felt inside. She finished with a career-high 17 points and eight rebounds. Krolicki finished with 15 points and six assists, Stutt finished with her 22nd double-double of the season with 11 points and 13 rebounds and sophomore guard Mikayla Leyden finished with 11 points and two steals on the night.
The Hustlin’ Owls had three different scorers in double figures, despite their low total score. LeVeque finished with 13 points and two assists, Armstrong finished with 12 points and senior Carrie Thibault added 10 points and three rebounds.
The win pushes Saint Xavier into the second round, where they will face off against 2014 runner-up College of the Ozarks at 8:45 p.m. Friday night.
Hallberg looks to offset some of the College of the Ozarks’ strengths in tomorrow night’s game.
“They’re more physical, bigger and stronger,” said Hallberg. “We’re going to have some trouble with their size and bulk, but hopefully we can offset some of that with our good shooting.”