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WBB: Vikings Scare, but Fall to Ozarks

Mar 8th, 2012 @ 9:33 pm | Author: Ryan Cunningham, NewsDakota.com
WBB: Vikings Scare, but Fall to Ozarks
It's never enough for Viking womens basketball coach Jill DeVries to simply put a scare into a team.

But DeVries can smile about doing so in the first round of the NAIA Division II national tournament Thursday.

The Vikings, seeded eighth in the third bracket, challenged College of the Ozarks, top-seed and #3 nationally, falling 57-51 in Sioux City, IA, finishing a season that saw only two players return from last year 19-15.

Ozarks, now 30-3, trailed by as many as eight, struggled to get all-american post Morgan Smith (Jr., Nixa, MO) going until the second half, and stared perhaps the biggest upset in tournament history in the face before finally finding a secure lead in the final minute of the game.

'I'm not one for moral victories, but our players were extremely focused and competed hard today,' said DeVries after the loss.

'They made us work as hard as any team we've played all year,' said Bobcats assistant Paul Voliva. 'I wouldn't trade (Smith) for anyone in the country, and they shut her down in the first half.

For the first 16 minutes, the Vikings were successful forcing Ozarks to play VCSU's style, limiting the Bobcats to just 11 points, while Brittany Lehner (So., Watertown, SD) scored 12 of her team-high 16 to give the Vikings a 19-11 lead.

The Bobcats found success soon after, and it came from beyond the arc. Maranda Vaught (Sr., Crane, MO) knocked down back-t0-back treys, and Ozarks hit four in the final 4:06 of the half, taking a 25-21 lead. Courtney Titus' (Jr., Hankinson, ND) three-point play cut the lead to one at 25-24 at the intermission.

The Vikings continued to battle in the second half, despite Lehner limited to less than 20 total minutes due to foul trouble. Kelsey Hunter (Fr., Miller, SD) scored eight points and grabbed seven boards, with six points coming in the second half. Valley City State exchanged one-point leads with Ozarks through the interior of the second half.

But there was no second-half answer for Smith. Her fade-away touch dropped 13 of her game-high 19 after halftime. The Vikings managed to keep the game within five till the final 58 seconds, when a pair of Smith foul shots put the lead to seven.

Titus backed up Lehner's 16 with 10 of her own. Vaught finished with 11 for the Bobcats.