March 4, 2011
Roehrig flirts with triple-double in opening round win
By David Boyce
A little over three minutes remained in the quarterfinals of the MIAA Women's Basketball Tournament when No. 1 seed Northwest Missouri State was clinging to a two-point lead against Truman.
And senior Gabby Curtis only had six points.
It prompted one Emporia State official who was sitting at courtside to question Curtis' selection as MIAA Player of the Year over Emporia State's Alli Volkens
Almost on cue, Curtis delivered the answer with a steal and a drive the length of the court for a layup.
Gabby's steal," said Northwest coach Gene Steinmeyer, "was huge for us.
"I don't know what was up with Gabby at the start. She's our go-to player. But Gabby was really playing down the stretch and that saved us."
Curtis followed her game-changing steal and layup with a 10-foot jumper that gave the Bearcats a 6-point cushion with 2:26 left.
"In the first half I wasn't playing well," Curtis said. "I told myself I could do it in the second half. I didn't want to lose."
Northwest rode that momentum to a 69-62 victory Friday afternoon and moved on to the semifinals. The Bearcats, 23-4, will play at 6 p.m. Saturday at Municipal.
The final box score proved that Curtis is worthy of being recognized as the best player in the MIAA this season. She finished with a double-double, scoring 14 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. She also had four steals, three assists and just one turnover.
But Curtis wasn't the only Bearcat turning in an MVP performance. Senior center Kyla Roehrig nearly had a triple-double, scoring 12 points, pulling down 14 rebounds and blocking nine shots.
Senior forward Gentry Dietz had her all-star moments in both halves. She went 8-for-14 from the field for a game-high 18 points.
"As far as Gabby and Gentry goes, there was a time in the game when they weren't playing well and it wasn't looking good, but they came out and did a lot of things to help us win the game," Steinmeyer said.
"That's kind of the team we've been all year. When we needed something done, somebody always stepped up and came through for us."
Northwest needed all those fine performances plus contributions off the bench from Alexis Boeh and Tara Roach to stave off a gutsy effort by No. 8 seed Truman.
Initially, it appeared Northwest was going to quickly run the Bulldogs off the court and back on the road to Kirksville, Mo.
Despite Roehrig saying the Bearcats came out feeling tournament-opening jitters, Northwest quickly jumped to an 11-0 lead.
Shelly Martin knocked down a couple of three-pointers, Abby Henry made a traditional three-point play and Dietz had an easy inside bucket.
"The good thing about our team is we have an inside and outside game," Dietz said.
But the Bulldogs withstood the initial blow and scrapped back in impressive fashion. With 7:02 left in the first half, Truman closed to 27-24 on a jumper by Breanna Daniels.
Northwest hung onto the lead the rest of the half, but went into halftime ahead only 33-31
Truman sophomore Jennifer Conway scored the first two field goals to start the second half and suddenly Northwest was staring at a 35-33 deficit.
"We needed to calm down," Roehrig said. "We were getting antsy. We took a deep breath, looked at each other and said, ‘let's play.'/"
Over the next several minutes the lead changed a few times. The game was tied 41-41 with 12:58 remaining.
"If you watched the game today you could see exactly what Bulldog basketball is about," said Truman coach Michael Smith. "I was proud of our effort today. We knew going in it was going to be a David versus Goliath matchup with Northwest.
"We got down 11-0. With a young team you worry about if they would fold the tent and we didn't. We fought the way we know how."
A jumper by Martin with 12:32 left gave the Bearcats the lead for good at 43-41. It grew to 56-48 with 5:56 left. But the Bulldogs would not go away. They scored the next six points and trailed 56-54 with 3:29 left.
And that's when Curtis worked her Player of the Year magic, silencing not only Truman, but also the Emporia State official, who praised Curtis by the end of the game.
"Gabby came on at the end and scored six huge points for us in the end," Dietz said.
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