Metro St. wins lopsided affair
DURANGO, Colo. — Cassondra Bratton scored 20 points, grabbed eight rebounds and passed for six assists to power No. 2 seed Metro State to a 74-55 win against No. 3 seed Wayne State (Neb.) on Saturday in the first semifinal game of the NCAA Division II Central Regional playoffs in Whalen Gymnasium at Fort Lewis College.
The heavily-anticipated matchup between the regular season champions of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (Metro State, 29-2 overall) and the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (Wayne State, 21-8) quickly turned into a lopsided affair.
The Roadrunners shot a blistering 57.1 percent (28 of 62) from the field in the first half to take a 42-22 lead into the locker room at halftime. The game was never in doubt in the second half, as the closest the Wildcats could come was 16 in the second stanza.
Alyssa Benson added 12 points and Jasmine Cervantes scored 10 for the Roadrunners.
Wayne State was paced by Mara Hjelle, who scored 24 points. Ashley Arlen added 12 points and 9 rebounds.
The Roadrunners dominated the glass, outrebounding the Wildcats by a 49-29 clip.
The teams came into the NCAA Division II Central Regional with nearly identical national rankings. Wayne State was ranked No. 9 in the latest coaches’ poll, while Metro State was ranked No. 10.
Metro State will face No. 8 seed Adams State (23-9), which continued to play the Cinderella role at the Central Regional. One night after upsetting tournament host, No. 1 seed and No. 5 nationally-ranked Fort Lewis 77-66 in overtime in the quarterfinals, the Grizzlies topped No. 4 seed Northern State (S.D.) 66-49 on Saturday.
The Roadrunners and Grizzlies will square off in Monday’s championship game in Whalen Gymnasium. The winner of the NCAA Division II Central Regional will advance to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight in St. Joseph, Mo., on March 22-25.
Today’s semifinal results guarantee a RMAC team in the Elite Eight for the second consecutive year. Last year’s regional champion, Fort Lewis advanced all the way to the NCAA Division II championship game, eventually losing to Emporia State.