March 14, 2011
Northwest claims first-ever regional title
TAHLEQUAH, Okla.-Northwest Missouri State claimed its first regional title in program history with a 82-70 victory Monday night over Central Oklahoma in the South Central Regional final. Gabby Curtis was named the regional's Most Outstanding Player.
Despite getting into foul trouble in the first half and having seven fewer made free-throws, the Bearcats battled back from an early three-point deficit in the half and carried a 38-35 advantage into the break. "I thought the biggest factor in the game was keeping the lead at halftime despite not playing will in the first half," head coach Gene Steinmeyer said.
With Gentry Dietz having three first half fouls, Northwest (28-4) needed its guards to step up, and they got just that. Curtis, Abby Henry and Shelly Martin combined for 31 points in the first half. The Bearcats never relinquished the lead in the second half despite the Broncos (22-10) cutting the lead to just two, three separate times. With 4:35 left and the Bearcats leading 66-64, Northwest went on a 7-0 run to give itself some much needed breathing room with under three minutes to play.
"We made them climb the hill all game long," said Steinmeyer. "That's kind of been our m.o. this postseason, jumping out to an early lead and then not letting teams get the lead back."
Northwest hit 11 free-throws the final 2:03 of the game to help the Bearcats salt away the game. Curtis ended up with 21 points and 6 rebounds. Martin had 20 points, including four three-pointers and went 8-of-8 at the line. Henry had 18 points, five rebounds and five assists. Kyla Roehrig finished with 14 points, 16 rebounds and six blocks. Roehrig and Dietz were named to the all-regional team along with Curtis.
Northwest finished the game with 13 more second-chance points and had three fewer turnovers, while making 9 more free-throws.
The Bearcats will be making their first trip to the "Elite Eight" and will now face the winner of Cal-Poly Pomona and Grand Canyon at 8:30 p.m. on March 22nd in St. Joseph.
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