Owls complete 18-point comeback, stun Golden Eagles in Round of 16

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BILLINGS, Mont. -- Twice the No. 19 and fifth-seeded John Brown University women's basketball team seemed to be on cruise control, but twice eighth-seeded William Woods (Mo.) responded, including a go-ahead triple with two seconds left to knock off the Golden Eagles 64-61 on Friday (March 17) night in the Round of 16 of the 2017 NAIA Division I Women's Basketball National Championship, presented by Wells Fargo, at the Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark.

JBU (23-9) started the game 6-of-10 from the field and quickly built a 14-0 lead, paced by triples from sophomore Baily Cameron and junior Kimmy Deines through just 3:35 of the first quarter.

Still up 17-2, the Owls (22-11) responded with a 14-4 run to pull within five, 21-16. Junior Luize Skrastina, who had eight first-quarter points, stemmed the run, but the designated home team continued to mount the comeback and clawed back to a manageable four points, 23-19, after one.

The Owls stayed close in the opening minutes of the second quarter, but then John Brown responded again in the form of a Cameron triple and later a jumper from the free throw line that returned the lead to 11, 35-24, with 4:17 left in the half. A triple from senior Kodee Powell with 2:35 left maintained a nine-point lead for the Golden Eagles as neither team managed a bucket over the final 155 seconds of play.

Out of the intermission, both offenses experienced cold spurts, but triples from Cameron, Powell and sophomore Preslea Reece ballooned the JBU lead all the way to 18 midway through the third. Then, the tide shifted.

Hampered by two turnovers and a 1-of-4 mark over the final 4:29 of the third, the Owls began their comeback charge, ending the period on a 13-3 run to whittle the once-unimaginable lead down to eight with 10 minutes to play.

The offensive difficulties for the Golden Eagles bled over into the fourth frame. It took just a 3:07 span at the start of the quarter for William Woods to piece together a 10-2 run to tie the score at 54 apiece.

The unthinkable then happened as WWU's Bailey Rollins hit a bucket with 6:18 left to take a 54-52, officially erasing the once 18-point Golden Eagle advantage. Reece then went to work with back-to-back bank shots off the glass in the post to keep the match tied at 58.

Cameron then hit her fourth trey of the contest, returning the lead to John Brown, but the Owls retaliated with a stunning triple of their own, forcing John Brown to find some late-game magic.

Deep into the shot clock, the Golden Eagles committed their final turnover of the season, giving the Owls a chance to take the lead with 17 seconds left. Out of a WWU timeout, they did just that.

Kaycee Gerald cut to the bucket and just before stepping out of bounds, swung a pass to the opposite arc where Kelsey Scherder hit a triple with two seconds left, swinging the lead back to William Woods, forcing JBU head coach Jeff Soderquist to burn his final timeout.

With an interrupted inbounds pass, Powell had to quickly gather a loose ball and heave a 27-foot triple that fell short, ending the career of the Golden Eagles' lone senior.

Over the final 14:29 of the game, John Brown shot just 4-of-15 (26.7 percent) and committed eight turnovers.

Cameron finished a stellar season by leading all players with 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting while grabbing eight boards and passing three helpers. Skrastina contributed 13 points and five rebounds while Reece came off the bench to add 11 points.

Scherder led a quartet of Owls in double figures with 19 points while Peyton Greenlee added 17 and Rollins, 11. Kennedy Volkart posted 10 as Woods shot just 22-of-66 from the field (33.3 percent) but converted 12-of-32 from behind the arc.

JBU shot 24-of-58 (41.4 percent) but went to the line just twice, hitting three of four. Ten triples weren't enough to overcome 15 turnovers as the Owl limited themselves to just eight in the upset win.

Powell finished her career averaging 10.7 points per game over 63 games in two seasons, knocking down 2.5 triples per game in her two-year career as a Golden Eagle.

 

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