Sioux City - The Hastings College women's basketball team fought tooth and nail down the stretch but could not over come the double digit deficit falling to No. 13 Friends 63-57 in the opening round of the NAIA DII Women's National Basketball Championship on Thursday night.
The game played out like many had figured it would with lots of turnovers and a low scoring game.
Hastings was able to get off to a great start as Jordan Johnson (JR/Fairbury, NE) opened up the scoring with a 3-pointer followed by a bucket from MacKenzie Willicott (SO/Blue Hill, NE) to lead 5-0.
Unfortunately, Friends would answer with an 18-2 run that carried into the second quarter while the Falcons carried a nine point lead into halftime.
Hastings was unable to keep the Falcons from opening up a 16 point lead and carried a 14 point lead into the fourth quarter with a 48-34 lead.
This is where Hastings would turn up the pressure defensively as Holly Hild (JR/Omaha, NE) would get a bucket off a turnover followed by two free throws to make it 50-40 with 6:03 to go in the game.
After Friends picked up a bucket from Yowanna Posey to make it 52-40, Willicott had another answer from the low block to make it 52-42.
Then Shandra Farmer (FR/Hastings, NE) would find Hild streaking down the floor for a lay-up and moments later, Farmer got a steal and a lay-up to cut the deficit to six at 52-46 with 3:27 remaining.
Following a Friends miss, Shanelle Farmer (SR/Hastings, NE) would be wide open on the left wing but her 3-pointer missed the mark as Friends came back down to the other end to get a bucket from Posey to push the lead back to eight with 2:21 to go.
Unfortunately, the Lady Broncos would only get the deficit back down to six two more times before the season came to a close.
Willicott finished with a team high 18 points and talked about the tough defensive pressure of the Falcons, "There defense is pretty good so it was hard for multiple to get high scoring," Willicott continued. "We're used to seeing pressure like this, Morningside, Concordia, they all pressure us but I guess it comes down to toughness but we didn't go out without a fight."
Head Coach Jina Johansen talked about the tough night in slowing down Lexi Evans from behind the arc, "That part was disappointing because we knew she was a shooter coming in making 99 three's coming in," Johansen said. "We went over the scouting report over the last week, shooters, drivers, she made some shots but we just weren't very smart having our hands down on a three and we went under a ball screen and she knocked one in."
Willicott finished the night connecting on 8-of-12 from the floor while pulling down eight boards. Hild added 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting while Shandra Farmer finished with 11 points.
Evans finished the night with a game high 20 points on 5-of-12 shooting including 5-of-10 from behind the arc.
Hastings finishes the season with a 22-10 record.