Top-seeded Drury rolls into Midwest Regional final, defeats Quincy
Amber Dvorak and Sanayika Shields each posted double-doubles and top seed Drury rolled into the DII Midwest Regional finals with a 78-58 victory against fifth-seed Quincy in the semifinals Sunday afternoon at the O'Reilly Family Event Center.
Dvorak had 19 points and 12 rebounds and Shields added 14 points and 13 rebounds as the Lady Panthers held a commanding 49-29 final advantage on the boards against the Hawks, who had defeated Drury 82-79 in Quincy on Jan. 30.
As a result, the Lady Panthers moved to 26-3 and will take on sixth-seed Wayne State in Monday's 7 p.m. title game at The O', where Drury has gone 14-1 this season and won eight in a row. Wayne State (23-7) knocked off No. 2 seed Lewis 87-80 in Sunday's other semifinal.
It will be Drury's sixth appearance in an DII regional final, joining those in 2003, '04, '06, '07 and '10, and is the first for the Lady Panthers in Springfield since 2006.
The Drury-Wayne State winner will advance to the DII Elite Eight, which will be played March 25-26 and 28 in Erie, Pa.
The Lady Panthers and first-year coach Steve Huber admitted Sunday they came into the contest with a bit of a chip on their shoulder at the chance to avenge the earlier loss at Quincy, when Drury led by seven points with 2:46 to play but let it slip away.
"There was definitely a revenge factor," Shields said. "We lost a close game at their place, and coming in, we always want to protect our house. So there was a chip on our shoulder today."
There was no chance for late-lead slippage in this one, as the Lady Panthers broke open a tight game (down 15-14 at the midway point of the first half) by outscoring the Lady Hawks 25-10 during the final 10 minutes of the half for a 40-24 lead at the break.
Quincy chipped away at the deficit early in the second half, cutting it to 11 on a couple of occasions around the 10-minute mark, but Drury pushed it back out to 18 (66-48) on a 3-pointer by Annie Armstrong with 6:13 to go and the Lady Panthers were never threatened from there.
Bethanie Funderburk added 15 points and seven rebounds and Armstrong added 14 points for the Lady Panthers, ranked sixth in the latest WBCA/USA TODAY Top 25 Poll. They combined had just two turnovers (one each) in 78 minutes of playing time.
But one of the biggest storylines came from junior forward Shelby White, a defensive stopper who put the clamps on Quincy's All-GLVC junior guard Lucy Cramsey. After delivering 23 points and 17 rebounds in Friday's win against No. 4 seed Northern Michigan, Cramsey managed just seven points (on 3-of-8 shooting) while being draped by White.
"I just tried to d-up on her and make her work twice as hard," White said.
"Cramsey had an unbelievable night [Friday vs. Northern Michigan], and Shelby just took on the responsibility and really played up to her potential," Huber said. "This was a total team effort [Sunday] with some individuals who really did some nice things."
Dvorak, with one blocked shot, pushed her season total to 55, tying the DU single-season mark set in 2004-05 by Eafton Hill. The double-double was Dvorak's fourth of the season -- and second in a row -- and was the third this season by Shields, who posted her sixth double-figures rebounding effort of the year.
The Lady Panthers made 32 of 60 shots (53 percent) while limiting the Lady Hawks to 32 percent (20 of 62).
Hannah Weedman had 12 points and eight rebounds to lead Quincy, which finished 23-7.
"It was a tough game for us," Quincy coach Jeni Garber said. "Drury is an excellent team, and on their home court with the great fans they have ... but we were excited for the game. We just had a bad stretch there in the first half where we didn't rebound well and gave them some easy buckets and they went on a good run, and our shots just weren't falling today. That's a tough way to go out.
"They did a good job on Cramsey. They stayed tight on her and didn't really give her any open looks. She had to work for the shots she got, and they really kind of took her out on that and made it tough for her."
Drury played without senior forward Kylie Williamson, who was cleared to play but was held out as a precautionary measure after suffering an ankle injury in Friday's win against Truman State.