SOMERS, Wis. – It took four tries but Wisconsin-Parkside got it done when it mattered most. Powered by three players in double figures, the Rangers downed Lewis 59-49 on Friday in the opening round of the 2013 NCAA tournament at Kates Gymnasium.
After dethroning the Great Lakes Valley Conference tournament champion Flyers (24-6), the seventh-seeded Rangers (21-9) will return to the court on Saturday against sixth-seeded Wayne State in the second round. The Warriors knocked off third-seeded Findlay 63-58.
UW-Parkside closed the opening half on a 12-2 run, taking a nine-point lead into the halftime break. The Rangers and second-seeded Flyers traded punches the opening 14 minutes of action, with the lead exchanging hands 10 times along with three ties. A Nikki Nellen 3-pointer with 5:44 left gave the Flyers what proved to be their final lead of the day at 26-25 with UWP closing the half with a 12-2 spurt to enjoy a 37-28 lead at the break.
Jenna Endisch reclaimed the lead for the Rangers with a layup with 5:25 left before a Danielle Slivka layup and a Tara Knapstein 3-pointer pushed the UWP advantage to six points. The Rangers extended the buffer to nine just two minutes before the half as Kiah Simon converted a three the old fashioned way. Lewis scored a layup with 66 seconds left, but the Rangers hit two free throws in the final 48 seconds of the half for a nine-point edge.
UW-Parkside held an eight-point safety net the entire second half en route to the 10-point victory. Lewis fought back, closing in with 1:39 left, but the Rangers converted seven of their nine free throw attempts down the stretch to earn the win and advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the third consecutive season.
Three Rangers registered in double figures on the afternoon with Simon paving the way with 15 points, draining seven of her 11 shots from the floor. Endisch collected 13 points and five rebounds while Knapstein added 11 points and six rebounds. Slivka led the team with nine boards while chipping in seven points on the offensive end.
Nellen led Lewis with 23 points, including 14 of the team’s 28 first half points, while Mariyah Henley and Sam Rinehart collected eight rebounds.
UW-Parkside shot 42.3 percent (22-for-52) for the game while limiting Lewis to shooting just 27 percent (17-for-63), including 21.2 percent (seven-for-33) in the second half. UWP dominated the paint, owning a 32-12 edge.