In the final game of opening day of the NAIA DII Women’s National Basketball Championship, No. 7 seed Oregon Tech upsets No. 7 seed Jamestown 71-64. The Hustlin’ Owls overcame a snapped Jamestown’s 15-game win streak, overcame a significant deficit in the second half and proved they deserved to be in Sioux City for the national tournament.
“It feels great. I’m so proud of the girls and so happy for them,” Oregon Tech Head Coach Scott Meredith said. “To be down 42-29 and go to a 13-0 run and tie the game again, my girls showed me something. They’re tough as nails.”
Megan Whetstone led Oregon Tech with 16 points on 6 of 15 shooting, while McKayla Orr and Kaeli Kraska led the Jimmies with 14 points apiece.
Historically, both Jamestown and Oregon Tech have had little to no success in the field of 32, with Jamestown amassing just a 6-7 overall and 4-2 first round record, while Oregon Tech is 0-4 all-time in tournament games.
The Jimmies entered the championship field on a 15-game winning streak, after winning both the regular season and NorthStar Athletic Conference tournament championship. While the Hustlin’ Owls of Oregon Tech entered tonight’s game straight off a 85-63 blowout loss to No. 1 seed Southern Oregon in the Cascade Collegiate Conference Championship game.
Turnovers and sloppy play from both teams was prominent throughout the first quarter. Jamestown and Oregon Tech combined for five and seven turnovers apiece in the first quarter.The sluggish offensive output was especially surprising for Jamestown, considering they rank 7th nationally in scoring margin per game at 17 points. On the other side, the low-scoring first half played into Oregon Tech’s hands, considering they rank third nationally in scoring defense per game at 55 points per game.
Seniors Jessica Buck and Kraska shouldered the load for the Jimmies in the first half, adding eight and 14 points, respectively. The Hustlin’ Owls were led by Whetstone and Morgan Roberts, who scored seven and eight first half points.
Both teams were tied at 23 at the 2:12 mark of the second quarter, before Jamestown got a basket from Alexis Watts and a five-point play sequence from Kraska. Buck converted a late runner in the lane and the Jimmies led 32-25 at halftime.
Jamestown jumped out to a hot start after the halftime break. Athree-pointer by McKayla Orr put the Jimmies up 42-29 three-pointer at the 4:41 mark that resulted in an Oregon Tech timeout. But the Hustlin’ Owls clawed back, thanks to a pair of free throws that cut the Jimmies’ lead to five with 1:32 left in the third.
Tess Armstrong connected on a corner three and Karly Leveque made a transition layup to tie the game at 42 with 50 seconds left. Oregon Tech scored on another layup, before Bryn Woodside connected on a three-pointer at the buzzer to put the Jimmies up 45-44 heading into the fourth quarter.
Both teams traded leads early in the fourth quarter, before Ashleigh Vanderbrink finished a layup and the free throw to put the ‘Hustlin Owls up five with five minutes remaining. Both teams traded free throws, before Kyra Dewald finished a layup and Orr drained a three-pointer to cut the lead to six with 22.3 seconds left. But it was simply too late for Jamestown, as Oregon Tech held on to win 71-64.
With the win, Oregon Tech is set to take on No. 3 seed Marian University at noon on Friday. Meredith and the rest of the Hustlin’ Owls had a chance to watch part of Marian’s previous game.
Meredith realizes the challenge at hand.
“They’re solid. They’re big and have some really physical post players,”Meredith said. “I was really impressed with their inside game.”