Courtesy: Emporia State Athletics
The Lady Hornets held California (PA) without a field goal for the final 6:43 of the game, but the 14th ranked Vulcans converted five of six free throws in that time to hold off ninth ranked Emporia State 51-46 in the NCAA Division II National Semifinals at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Much like their first game in the Elite Eight, Emporia State started out quickly. The Lady Hornets hit their first four shots and led 8-2 just over two minutes into the game. The Vulcans came back to within 14-12 at the 11:19 mark when Emporia State went on a 5-0 mini-run to take their biggest lead with 10:01 left in the half.
Cal took their first lead at 26-25 with 4:05 left in the half on the strength of a 10-4 run where the Vulcans converted six of six free throws. Emporia State answered with back to back three-pointers by Addie Lackey and Kelly Moten to go up 31-26 with 1:56 remaining. Lana Doran hit a layup with 1:41 left to get Cal within three and Kaitlynn Fratz hit a jumper at the buzzer as the Lady Hornets took a 31-30 lead into the break. Emporia State outscored California 30-21 from the field but converted only one of three free throws while the Vulcans were nine of ten from the stripe.
Miki Glenn scored on the first possession of the second half to give Cal a 32-31 lead before Lackey answered with a jumper to make it 33-32 with 19:10 left. Moten went two for two from the line to give Emporia State a 35-32 lead with 17:02 remaining before 5-0 mini-run gave the Vulcans a 37-35 lead. Kelsey Barnwell buried a three-pointer with 15:50 left to give the Lady Hornets their final lead of the night at 38-37. Fratz hit a three to put the Vulcans up 40-38 only to see Lackey hit a jumper in the lane to tie the game at 40 with 14:19 left. Irina Kukolj scored inside with 13:13 left to make it 42-40 and that would be the last score for either team until Kathryn Flott scored inside to tie the game with 9:57 left. Emporia State would go the next 9:06 without a field goal. When the field goal drought ended with a Moten layup at the :51.5 mark the Lady Hornets found themselves down just three at 49-46. Following a Cal timeout Quick blocked a layup attempt by Glenn and pulled the rebound. Moten was called for a charge with 19.7 seconds left to turn the ball back over to the Vulcans. Fratz was quickly fouled and hit both ends of the one and one to make it a two possession game with 17.6 seconds remaining. The Lady Hornets got a pair of three pointers and a jumper off in the final ten seconds but could not convert.
Emporia State held California to 29.3% shooting from the field and outrebounded the Vulcans 47-34, but gave up 17 points off of 19 turnovers and only made five of ten free throws while Cal hit 14 of 17 from the charity stripe.
Moten led Emporia State with 17 points, nine rebounds and four assists while Quick added 11 points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots. Flott had a game high 11 rebounds for the Lady Hornets.
Emporia State ended the season 29-5, tying for the fifth most wins in a season, as they advanced to their sixth Elite Eight and fourth Final Four in school history. Merissa Quick was the only senior on the NCAA Tournament roster as the Lady Hornets are set to return nine of the ten players that saw action in the Elite Eight.
The Lady Hornets are expected to leave Sioux Falls at 8:30 a.m. and return to Emporia at approximately 3:00 p.m.
Merissa Quick ended her four year career playing in a school record 132 games with a school record 326 blocked shots, 1,554 points to rank seventh all-time at Emporia State, 919 rebounds to rank fourth and 422 free throws to rank seventh. Her 123 blocked shots this year are 30 more than Esmary Vargas Sanchez previous school record of 93 set in 2004-05.
Emporia State is now 36-16 (.692) all-time in NCAA Tournament games and 7-5 in the Elite Eight.