TAHLEQUAH, Okla. -- Northwest Missouri State claimed its first regional title in program history with a 82-70 victory Monday night against 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," coach Gene Steinmeyer said.

With Gentry Dietz having three first-half fouls, Northwest (28-4) needed its guards to step up, and they did. 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 on three separate occasions. 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 less three minutes to play.

Northwest hit 11 free throws the final 2:03 to help the Bearcats salt away the game. Curtis ended up with 21 points and 6 rebounds. Martin had 20 points, including four 3-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 nine 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 9:30 p.m. ET on March 22 in St. Joseph.