March 5, 2011
Bearcats win semifinal behind Martin's 22
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -The first time Northwest Missouri State junior Shelly Martin loaded up and unleashed her high-arching three-point shot that swished through the nets, Pittsburg State must have realized it was in trouble.
Martin's three-point bomb gave the Bearcats an early nine-point lead Saturday evening in the semifinals of the MIAA Women's Basketball Tournament at Municipal Auditorium.
"The first one felt pretty good," Martin said. "I didn't know I was going to shoot that well. It was a really fun game to play. My teammates got me wide-open looks and fortunately today I knocked them down."
She kept firing and the shots kept falling. It made the Bearcats offense nearly unstoppable.
Martin made four of five three-pointers in the first half as Northwest put 42 points on the scoreboard in the first 20 minutes.
Northwest took a 12-point lead into halftime and maintained a double-digit advantage until a little over 5-minutes left when Pittsburg State closed to five.
Martin helped dash any thoughts of a Gorilla comeback when she nailed her sixth three-pointer of the game that gave Northwest an 11-point lead with over 4 minutes left.
The Bearcats needed that cushion to close out an 83-76 victory.
"This was really a team win," Northwest coach Gene Steinmeyer said. "It's what we've been doing all year long.
"But this was the day for our starter Shelly. Shelly got some looks today and she didn't miss. She had nine shots. We wished we could have gotten her 19 shots."
Martin was 7-for-9 from the field, including 6-of-7 from behind the arc for a game-high 22 points.
Yesterday in the quarterfinals, Martin was a quiet Bearcat as Gabby Curtis, Kyla Roehrig and Gentry Dietz all had big games in a 69-62 victory over Truman
But what has made Northwest so good all season is the number of players who step up. It's why the Bearcats are 24-4 and will play in the championship game at 3:45 p.m. Sunday at Municipal.
Right away Pittsburg State got a taste of the Bearcats' multiple scorers. Junior Abby Henry scored the first four points of the game. Henry only scored three against Truman on Friday.
A few minutes later it was the three-pointer by Martin that gave an early indication that she was in for a special game. The trey gave the Bearcats an 11-2 lead.
Martin was catching a pass and quickly releasing it for a shot before Pittsburg State could get set on defense.
One of her daggers came in the latter portion of the first half that increased Northwest's lead to 30-19. A little later she nailed another three-pointer, giving Northwest a 37-25 lead.
"When she's on fire we just want to keep giving her the ball," Curtis said."
In the last minute of the first half she drilled another trey that put the Bearcats in front 42-28.
The Bearcats held a healthy 60-45 lead near the midway point of the second half when Pittsburg State made a nice run and closed to 69-63.
"We weren't sprinting back and they had wide-open baskets," Dietz said. "We knew they were going to have a run at some point. They got close but we had an answer."
A three-pointer by Martin with 4:28 left ended the Gorillas' momentum.
Since the Bearcats scored 83 points, Northwest once again showed it has many ways to put an opposing defense in a horrible position.
Curtis scored 18 and Henry, Dietz and Roehrig each had 13 points.
"I've said all year long that we have an inside game and an outside game and when Shelly is on they have to guard everyone," Dietz said. "Shelly drove the baseline tonight and they double-teamed her and I got the easiest 10 points in a half that I could get because they were doubling everybody else."
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