MEQUON, Wis. – Concordia University Wisconsin's women's basketball team used a strong defensive effort to top Maranatha Baptist Bible College, 47-40, in the Northern Athletics Conference semifinals Thursday night at the R. John Buuck Field House. The Falcons advance to play in the NAC Championship Saturday night.
CUW (19-8) will take on top-seeded Wisconsin Lutheran College Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Recreation Complex in Milwaukee, Wis. The Warriors advanced to the championship contest by defeating Benedictine, 69-47, in the other semifinal Thursday. The winner will earn the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Women's Basketball Tournament.
Junior Katie Luethe (Oshkosh, Wis.) led the Falcons with 13 points and six rebounds, while junior Anna Butler (Kewaskum, Wis.) chipped in with 10 points in the victory. Laci Peterson scored a game-high 15 points and blocked seven shots for the Crusaders.
The Falcons defense was the big reason for the victory, holding the Crusaders to 40 points, 20.7 below their season average. CUW also forced 24 Crusader turnovers.
The opening half saw the Falcons defense dominate as they held MBBC to 12 points and forced 16 turnovers. The Crusaders had more turnovers in the opening half than field goal attempts (15). Despite the strong defense, CUW held just a 13-10 lead with nine minutes remaining in the half before closing the opening 20 minutes on a 14-2 run, taking a 27-12 advantage into the locker room.
Luethe dominated the first half scoring 11 points, grabbing four rebounds and dishing out two assists as the Falcons shot 34.4 percent (11-for-32). MBBC countered with 40 percent (6-for-15) shooting, but the 16 first-half turnovers was a big reason for the 15-point CUW lead.
MBBC (19-6) would start to chip away at the Falcon lead as it began the first seven minutes after halftime on a 12-5 run, cutting the lead to 31-24. The Crusaders would get as close as five, 45-40, with 57 seconds remaining, but a pair of free throws by senior Brittany Zietlow (Oak Creek, Wis./Oak Creek) with 19 seconds left iced the game and sent the Falcons into the NAC Championship.
CUW finished the game shooting 33.3 percent (18-for-54), while the Crusaders connected on 40.9 percent (18-for-44) of their shots. The Falcons turned the ball over just 16 times compared to 24 for MBBC. CUW also held an edge at the free throw line, making 71.4 percent (10-for-14) of its free throws, compared to 50 percent (3-for-6) free-throw shooting for MBBC.
The Falcons will now try and win their third NAC Tournament title Saturday. CUW also captured championships in 2006 and 2008.