SIOUX CITY, Iowa | At least the Purdue Calumet women's basketball team gets a more accommodating time slot for its second-round game in the NAIA Div. II women's basketball tournament.
The opponent certainly will not be.
After winning a first-round NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship tournament game Wednesday night that ended 27 minutes before midnight, Purdue Calumet faces Davenport University of Grand Rapids, Mich., which spent most of the season ranked No. 2 in NAIA Div. II. The Panthers easily handled Ave Maria, 94-40, in their first-round game Wednesday.
Tip-off for the second-round game is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. today.
"Davenport is a very aggressive team that uses its depth to put on full-court pressure throughout the game," Purdue Calumet coach Tom Megyesi said Thursday night. "They attack the basket really well and have two outstanding three-point shooters. We are expected a real battle and will need to play very well to knock them off."
It is the 10th consecutive tournament appearance for Davenport, which finished 21-1 in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference and 32-1 overall. Led by Forward Tiesha Stokes, who averages 14.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, the Panthers beat teams by an average of 25.6 points this season. Center Alison Bouman and guard Alex Law average 11.7 points apiece for the Panthers.
Purdue Calumet relied on its nation-leading free-throw shooters to beat Oregon Tech in a game that started late Wednesday. It was the first win for the Peregrines in a national tournament.
Cassidy Deno, for instance, made each of her last four attempts from the charity stripe. The Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference’s regular-season and tournament champions made 9-of-12 free throws in the final 2:30 to clinch their first-ever national tournament victory, 83-75 over Oregon Tech at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City.
Deno made all 13 of her free-throw attempts while scoring 26 points for coach Tom Megyesi’s Peregrines (25-6). Purdue Calumet’s other two double-digit scorers, Kami Graber (20) and Tierra Turner (13), combined on 14-of-19 free-throw shooting.
“We focus on free throws. We have all season,” said Deno, who has missed just 13-of-120 free throws all season. “We knew we were one of the top teams in free-throw percentage, so we had to take advantage of that and get to the free-throw line as much as we could. That really helps us in the long run.”
Purdue Calumet’s No. 1 free-throw percentage actually dropped to 79.3 percent following a 32-of-44 effort. Still, Megyesi’s squad outscored the Cascade Collegiate Conference tournament champions by 20 points from the line in a game that in the second half featured nine lead changes.
The last of the lead switches occurred when Graber made the first, but missed the second free throw for a 75-74 lead with 2:18 left.
“Purdue Calumet attacked the rim, and they got rewarded for contact,” said Oregon Tech Coach Scott Meredith, whose 28-6 team got 19 points from Karly Leveque, while 6-foot-2 senior post Kassi Conditt and Karissa Dixon added 13 and 12 points, respectively.
“I didn’t have a problem with the officiating at all. I thought the crew did a really good job. Each time we fouled them, they stepped to the line, I thought, ‘There’s another two points.’ Their percentage doesn’t lie.”
Oregon Tech, which trailed 15-4 five minutes into the game, rallied from a 70-66 deficit to tie it 72-72 on Leveque’s 3-pointer with 3:10 remaining. Conditt’s ninth defensive rebound of the night led to a series where Deno fouled Rebekah Matteri, whose two free throws gave the Owls a 74-72 lead about 18 seconds later.
Gervais produced the third tie of the second half, sinking an offensive rebound basket of Turner’s 3-point miss. From there, the Peregrines’ last nine points came from the line.
Deno claimed two defensive boards in the game’s final minute. Gervais’ steal with three seconds remaining clinched her team's seventh straight victory.
“I thought we really crashed the boards, then (Oregon Tech) had to foul,” Megyesi said. “We made some free throws. That’s what it comes down to. I told everybody, crash the boards, but don’t foul their 3-point shooters, don’t foul on layups and don’t let them stop the clock and make points.”
Though they never met on the court, Purdue Calumet and Davenport faced several common opponents this season. Cornerstone University beat Purdue Calumet in the second game of the season and split a pair of conference games against Davenport, giving the Panthers their only loss.