By JACOB WOERTHER
(SEARCY, Ark., digitalBURG) — Following a disappointing loss to Emporia State in the semifinals of the MIAA Tournament, Jennies basketball regrouped to make an impact in the NCAA tournament.
Their 56-45 victory over Minnesota State Moorhead Friday advances the Jennies to the second round of the tournament along with the other 15 remaining teams.
The Jens entered the second quarter with a slim 10-9 lead, but midway through the quarter the Dragons took their first lead of the game off a jumper from Jacky Volkert. Volkert and Cassidy Thorson drained shots on back-to-back possessions to give the Dragons a six-point lead with 3:16 left in the half. The Jennies knocked down four free throws to make it a two-point game going into the third.
Three-pointers from Paige Redmond and Ashley Duffy started a 14-0 run for UCM that spanned the first 5:28 of the third quarter. The Dragons, however, responded with a spurt of their own, outscoring the Jens 10-1 over the final 4:32 of the quarter.
The Jennies led just 35-32 entering the fourth quarter, but once again demonstrated they are a fourth-quarter team. Duffy knocked down a layup and triple in the first minute of the quarter and the Jennies pulled out to a six-point lead.
The Dragons came within two points of the Jennies with 7:29 left to play, but that was the closest Moorehead came to regaining the lead. Central sealed the game with a strong 15-6 run and punched their ticket to the second round of the tournament
Megan Skaggs led the Jennies with 17 points, Kayonna Lee walked away with a double-double that consisted of 10 points and 11 rebounds, and Duffy ended the day just one rebound short of a double-double with 16 points and nine rebounds.
The Dragons struggled with turnovers, giving the ball up 18 times over the course of the game. The Jens capitalized off the Dragons’ mistakes and scored 20 of their 37 points off turnovers. The Dragons’ also faced difficulty outside of the arc. They failed to make any of their 17 attempted three-pointers.
Volkert scored a team-high 22 points for the Dragons and Drew Sannes finished with 16.
The Jennies next game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. March 11 against the Harding Bison. A win over Harding will rekindle an MIAA rivalry and pit the Jens against either Central Oklahoma or Emporia State.