BILLINGS, Mont. – The Lyon College women’s basketball team had a long wait before its first game at the NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship as the Scots faced Vanguard (Calif.) in the final contest of the opening day of the First Round at 10:45 p.m. (central time). The wait was well worth it as the fifth-seeded Scots knocked off the fourth-seeded Lions, 77-73. The Scots will now face the No. 1-seed in the Cramer Bracket, Montana Western, on Friday afternoon at 3:15 p.m. (central time). Montana Western defeated Georgetown College (Ky.), 89-69, to advance to the Second Round.
Lyon improved to 25-7 with the win, while Vanguard ended its season at 22-10.
Both teams came out hot from the field right from the start on Wednesday night. Ali Tucker started off the night with back-to-back triples for the Scots before Madison Riley found her way in the scoring column as the duo combined for the first 16 points for Lyon. The Scots took a 16-14 lead over the Lions with 3:15 left in the first quarter after a jumper by Riley. Samantha French added a bucket on the next possession for the Scots before a three-pointer by Marleigh Dodson extended the Scots’ lead to 21-14. Vanguard ended the quarter with two buckets to cut the deficit to 21-19.
Riley and Liz Henderson got the Scots rolling in the second quarter as a layup by Riley gave Lyon a 27-22 advantage just four minutes in. Dodson scored the next four points for the Scots, including a three-point play after a steal on a defensive rebound by the Lions to push the lead to 30-24 for Lyon. The Scots lead hovered around six points for much of the quarter as a free throw by French gave Lyon a 36-30 lead at the half.
Vanguard stormed back and opened up the third quarter with a 7-0 run, which was capped off by a three-pointer by Victoria Chea that gave the Lions a 37-36 lead. The Scots weathered the storm as Henderson began to take over the game. Henderson accounted for seven straight points as the Scots regained the lead, 43-37. The two teams went on to exchange buckets over the next couple minutes before Henderson went on another big run of her own. The junior guard ended the quarter with the final eight points for the Scots as Lyon took a 56-49 advantage into the final period.
Lyon extended its lead to nine points twice in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter after a bucket each by Katie Turner and Henderson, but Vanguard rallied back to tie the game at 66-66 with 2:03 left in regulation after a jumper by Vanessa Murphy. The Scots went on the seal the game from the charity stripe as Lyon converted 11 of its final 12 free throws to hold off the Lions.
Henderson led all scorers as she finished with a game-high 25 points, while Riley and Tucker chipped in 18 and 13 points, respectively. Tristen Rollon led the Lions with a team-high 21 points.
The Lyon College Department of Athletics will host a watch party for the women’s basketball team’s second-round game of the NAIA Division I Championship against Montana Western Friday.
Fans are invited to watch the live stream of the game in the Maxfield Room on the campus of Lyon College. Tip-off for the game is scheduled for 3:15 p.m. (central time), but fans can arrive earlier as seating is on a first-come, first served basis.
Photo courtesy of Wally Feldt (Frontier Conference) Info via Matt Jagodzinski, Sports Information Director at Lyon College