March 7, 2004
Bearcats Capture MIAA Tournament Crown
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Northwest Missouri State women's basketball team captures its first-ever Sonic/MIAA Postseason Tournament Championship Sunday, defeating Emporia State, 76-62.
For the second day in a row, the 'Cats jumped out to an early 8-2 lead. Sarah Vollertsen (Sr., Palmyra, Neb.) hit the team's first bucket of the game, and the run was capped by a jumper from Brooke Hogue (Sr., Albany, Mo.). Emporia battled back to get within one on a layup by Casey Henningsen to make the score 11-10 at the midway point of the first half.
After missing her first free throw, Vollertsen hit a her second shot from the charity stripe that sparked a 8-0 run to give Northwest a 10-point advantage at 20-10 with just over six minutes to play in the half. The run was capped by back-to-back three-point field goals from Hogue and Ashely Poptanycz (Jr., Westboro, Mo.).
Once again the Lady Hornets battled back to get within four, but that just seemed to make the Bearcats even more determined. The 'Cats pushed their lead back to seven with just under four minutes left in the half. However, Emporia hit a hot streak and used a 7-1 run to finish out the half and make it a one-point game at halftime, with the 'Cats up 25-24.
Just as they had on Saturday, the Bearcat defense came out extremely strong in the second half. The 'Cats held the Lady Hornets scoreless for the first four minutes and eight second of the second half and used a 12-1 run to open up a 12-point advantage at the 15:36 mark in the second half.
The two teams continued to battle, and Emporia got to within six on a Henningsen jumper around the 12 minute mark. Jane Chalmers (Sr., Echuca, Australia) answered with a three-point jumper that jump started a 13-9 run that put the Bearcats in front by 13 with 6:04 left in the game.
The offense continued to pour it on, while the defense remained stingy. Erica Hatterman (Sr., Lost Springs, Kan.) gave the Bearcats their biggest lead of the day at 15, when she hit a jumper with just over five minutes to play. The 'Cat defense held the Lady Hornets to just one three-point field goal in the second half, which was Emporia's only three-point bucket of the game.
Northwest was also solid from the line, draining 11 of 14 free throws in the last two minutes to seal the victory and the tournament crown.
All five starters scored in double figures, led by Chalmers with 20 points and eight assists, which earned her all-tournament team honors. She was joined on the all-tournament team by Vollertsen who notched 17 points and was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.
Hogue chipped in with 15 points, while Hatterman tacked on 10 points and three assists. Poptanycz notched her seventh double-double of the season, pouring in 12 points and grabbing 13 boards.
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