March 20, 2009

Courtesy George Fox Athletics

HOLLAND, Mich. - Sage Indendi hit six three-pointers on the way to a game-high 23 points and George Fox University tied the single-game tournament record with 14 threes as the Bruins advanced to the NCAA Division III Women's Basketball National Tournament title game with a 67-52 win over the College of New Jersey Lions Friday night here at Hope College's DeVos Fieldhouse.

The Bruins (31-0) will face the Washington University-St. Louis Bears (26-4) in the title game Saturday at 1:00 p.m. (10:00 a.m. Pacific time). The Bears, who are in the Final Four for the eighth time and won four consecutive national championships from 1998-2001, pulled away from a 27-22 halftime lead to cruise past the Amherst College Lord Jeffs 65-49. Amherst (29-3) and New Jersey (27-5) will meet in the consolation game at 10:00 a.m. (7:00 a.m. Pacific time).

Saturday's championship game may be viewed in the Portland/Newberg area through CBS College Sports Network on Comcast channel 412, Dish Network channel 152, DirectTV channel 613, and the Verizon FIOS TV package on channel 94. The George Fox community also invites fans to join them on campus in the Hoover Building Room 105 to view the game.

The Lions struck first on a layup by the WBCA Division III National Player of the Year, 6-3 post Hillary Klimowicz, but the Bruins answered with a three-pointer by Keisha Gordon and the battle was on. TCNJ twice held four-point leads in the early going, at 7-3 and 9-5, while the Bruins took three-point leads three times in the first 13 minutes, the last at 20-17 on a layup by 6-4 center Kristen Shielee, an honorable mention All-American, with 7:29 remaining.

Lisa Koch's three tied it one more time at 20-20 with 7:13 to go, but Arianna Mohsenian broke the deadlock two minutes later, sparking a 14-6 Bruin run to close the half. Up by five as halftime neared, Indendi missed a three with five seconds left, only to get the ball back when B.B. Gardner grabbed the long rebound and passed it to her, and that one she nailed at the buzzer for a 34-26 Bruin lead at the break.

Indendi hit another trey on the Bruins' second possession of the second half for the first 10-point margin of the game, and Shielee added a layup off a lob from Gardner to make it 39-26. The Bruins stretched the margin to 20 when Shielee blocked a reverse layup try by Klimowicz, then Indendi stole the ball, drove for a layup, and converted a three-point play for a 50-30 lead with 14 minutes left. Indendi hit two more threes shortly thereafter to give the Bruins their biggest lead of 57-35 with 11:08 to go.

The Bruins went scoreless over the next four minutes as the Lions reeled off seven unanswered points to close within 15 at 57-42 with 8:08 left on a three-point play by Klimowicz after a Shielee foul, but that was as close as they would get. A 10-4 run, capped by an Elise Kuenzi three that was the Bruins' 14th of the game, boosted the lead back to 21 at 67-46 with 3:35 to play.

George Fox's 14 threes tied the record for a game set by Hardin-Simmons University vs. Eastern Mennonite University in 2004, and tied by Bridgewater College vs. Bates College in 2006. The key to the game, though, according to Bruin coach Scott Rueck, was the battle between the two big centers.

"The matchup in the post went about as I had hoped," said Rueck, who was named the Rawlings Athletics / WBCA National Coach of the Year earlier in the day. "Klimowicz is not the Player of the Year for nothing; she is extremely talented, and we knew we couldn't stop her, but we hoped to slow her down. She got, what, 19 points and nine rebounds, about her average, but Kristen made her work; she had 19 points on 19 shots."

Shielee almost balanced the Lions' post with 15 points of her own and equaled her with nine boards. Shielee had five blocks, four on Klimowicz, while the TCNJ center had three blocks, two on Shielee.

Indendi knocked down 6-of-8 three-point attempts and 8-of-11 field goal tries in all en route to her 23 points, one short of her career high. Gordon chipped in with 12 points, included three threes as the Bruijs hit 14-of-28 for .500 from behind the arc. Indendi added seven assists and three steals to her all-around game, and Gardner had five assists as the efficient Bruins made 18 assists on 22 field goals. George Fox also controlled the glass 40-30.

Kelsey Kutch was the only other Lion in double figures with 14 points. Nicole Diaz handed out six assists, and Alyssa Michella made four steals.