MILWAUKEE (WLCSports.com) – Behind 21 points, seven assists, and five rebounds from NACC Player of the Year Jen Dowden (Bonduel, Wis.), the Wisconsin Lutheran College women's basketball team defeated the visiting Concordia Wisconsin Falcons 66-59 in the NACC Tournament Final Sunday afternoon. With the win, the Warriors secured their seventh conference tournament championship in the last eight years, earning an automatic berth to the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament.
- Final Score: Wisconsin Lutheran 66, Concordia Wisconsin 59
- Records: Wisconsin Lutheran (24-3), Concordia Wisconsin (20-7)
- Location: Recreation Complex, Milwaukee, Wis.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Kelly Tramburg (Fall River, Wis.) started the scoring for WLC, connecting on two baseline jumpers, then Maddie Cruz (New Berlin, Wis.) knocked down a jumper from the top of the key to put the Warriors ahead 6-2 with over two minutes remaining in the first quarter.
- Dowden and Lexi Reinke (Bonduel, Wis.) buried back-to-back triples to increase the Warriors lead to 12-4 with just over two minutes remaining in the opening period.
- Coreana Carson (Milwaukee, Wis.) opened the second quarter with a triple in the corner, pushing Wisconsin Lutheran's lead to 13 with eight minutes remaining in the first half.
- Both teams struggled to find the bottom of the basket in the following minutes, but CUW used a 5-0 run to close out the half to cut the WLC lead to 28-19 at the half.
- The Falcons scored the first six points of the third quarter to cut the Warriors lead to just three with six minutes to play in the period.
- Carson stopped an 11-0 CUW run with a layup, then Tramburg used a layup of her own to put Wisconsin Lutheran back ahead by seven with four minutes left in the quarter.
- Concordia Wisconsin used a 7-2 run to cut the Warriors lead to just two points, but a last-second layup from Maddy Elrod (Conifer, Colo.) gave the Warriors a four-point lead headed into the final quarter.
- The Falcons knocked down a three-pointer to cut the Warriors lead to just one point, but Dowden answered with a triple of her own, putting WLC back up by four with eight minutes to play.
- After a Dowden steal, Caitlin Knueppel (Wauwatosa, Wis.) connected on a fast break triple from the wing to push the Warriors lead to six points with just over seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. It was Knueppel's NACC record-breaking 249th career three-pointer.
- A three-point play by CUW cut the WLC lead back down to just one point with 4:25 showing on the clock, but Tramburg answered with a corner three to push the Warriors lead back to four points.
- The Falcons answered yet again with a three-pointer, but Dowden connected on a step back triple from the top of the key to keep the Warriors advantage at four.
- After a Knueppel jumper, Carson buried a triple from the corner as the shot clock expired to push the Warriors lead to eight, 63-55, with 44.3 seconds left in regulation.
- Cruz connected on three free throws in the final 0:30 seconds of regulation to ice the game for WLC, giving the Warriors the 66-59 triumph.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
- Dowden paced the Warriors with a game-high 21 points and dished out a game-high seven assists.
- Cruz added a career-high 12 points and pulled down five rebounds.
- Carson rounded out the double-digit scorers with 10 points and collected four rebounds, three assists, and three steals.
- The Warriors shot 54.8 percent (23-of-42) from the field, their third-highest mark of the season.
- WLC connected on 50 percent (10-of-20) shooting from beyond the arc and 66.7 percent (10-of-15) from the free throw line. It marked the sixth time this year that the Warriors connected on 10 or more three-pointers in a game.
- WLC out-rebounded the Falcons 27-21 and forced 10 turnovers.
FOR THE FOES
- Baylee Barker led three CUW players in double-figures with 15 points, while Audrey Scharmer added 14 points and six rebounds.
- Brianna Wagner scored 13 points for the Falcons.
- The visitors shot 42.6 percent (20-of-47) from the floor and converted 81.3 percent (13-of-16) of their free throw attempts.
- With the victory, the Warriors secure an automatic berth to the 2018 NCAA Division III Championship Tournament for the seventh time in the last eight years. WLC will find out its opponent Monday afternoon during the 64-team Selection Show at 1:30 p.m. on NCAA.com.