KENOSHA, Wis. - In a rematch of an early-season matchup, the Wisconsin Lutheran College women's basketball team fell short for the second time this season against second-ranked Hope, 60-54, in a NCAA Tournament First Round game Friday night at Tarble Arena.
Defense was on display from both teams early in the game, as WLC held a slim 14-11 lead following a Melanie Laete (Spokane, Wash./Evergreen Lutheran) jumper with 9:39 remaining. The Warriors continued to cling to their lead, with Brittanny Bahr (Racine, Wis./Shoreland Lutheran) draining a three at the 3:15 mark to give WLC its largest lead of the game at 26-20.
A Hope three-pointer of its own on the ensuing possession began an 11-0 run that lasted the remainder of the half to give the Flying Dutch a halftime lead of 31-26.
Rachel Hoft (Germantown, Wis./Germantown) paced the Warriors in the half with nine points, coming on 3-for-4 shooting from beyond the arc. Kristen Schulz (Safford, Ariz../Arizona Lutheran) led all players with eight rebounds in the half.
The Flying Dutch stayed hot into the second half, scoring the first two buckets to take the largest lead of the game for either team at 34-26. Schulz answered with two consecutive layups and a free throw to trim WLC's deficit to 34-31. A Bethany Unkefer (Phoenix, Ariz./Arizona Lutheran) layup with 16:19 to play brought the Warriors back to within one point, 34-33.
Hope began to give itself more cushion following a pair of made free throws by Anna Kaufmann to push its lead back to six, 49-43, with 8:31 left to play.
WLC proved to be resilient however, bringing the score to within two points twice. Laete sank two free throws with 1:18 remaining to bring the score to within two points for a third time at 55-53. Hope wouldn't let the Warriors inch any closer the rest of the game, finishing on a 5-1 run to emerge victorious 60-54.
Schulz overcame a slow start offensively to earn her 22nd double-double of the season with 15 points and a game high 18 rebounds. Hoft finished with 14 points while pulling in five rebounds. Laete finished a basket shy of a double-double, scoring eight points and recording 10 rebounds.
Hannah Doell led Hope (28-0) with 15 points and nine rebounds. Maura McAfee added 13 points, four rebounds, and three blocks.
Hope came out on top despite being out-shot 36.2 percent (21-for-58) to 33.3 percent (22-for-66) overall and 80 percent (8-for-10) to 60 percent (12-for-20) from the free throw line.
The Flying Dutch will face host Carthage (25-3) in Saturday's regional final. The Lady Reds defeated St. Norbert (21-5) 60-51 in Friday's other matchup.
WLC finishes the season 24-4 overall and 19-1 in NACC competition. This was the fourth consecutive season the Warriors achieved 24 or more wins and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.