Drury sinks Grand Valley State
HOUGHTON, Mich. – The fifth-seeded Drury Panthers, who finished runner-up to host Michigan Tech during last season’s NCAA Midwest Regional Tournament, advanced to face the Huskies again by upsetting the Grand Valley State Lakers 67-60 Friday in the final quarterfinal matchup of the night. The Panthers got 22 points from freshman guard Bethanie Funderburk.
“I couldn’t be more proud for the team,” said Panthers head coach Steve Harold. “We had to fight and claw. We could have folded our tents at 53-49, and we didn’t. We just kept on fighting back.”
The Lakers jumped out to the early lead off a layup by guard Briauna Taylor. The Lakers were able to push that lead to as many as three, 9-6, after Briauna Taylor hit a 3-pointer. The Panthers (20-9 overall) answered with a 3 of their own from forward Abby Bracker and soon found themselves up by two, 11-9, after a jumper from guard Ja’Nell Jones.
“I am proud of us,” said Taylor. “We had a great team this year and we were a family.”
Both teams traded small leads or tying scores until Funderburk hit a jumper and forward Amanda Gibbons netted a pair of free throws to put the Panthers up seven, 27-20 with 2:33 remaining in the half. The Lakers (20-8 overall) answered with eight consecutive points, including five from Briauna Taylor to take a slim lead, 28-27, into the half.
“I think it was two great young teams competing,” said Lakers head coach Janel Burgess. “I am very proud of this young group of ladies. It was a great sophomore class that lead us tonight.”
The Panthers regained the lead off a layup from Funderburk just over 30 seconds into the second half. From there, the teams traded leads until Funderburk drained a 3-pointer to put the Panthers up five, 39-34, with 16:21 remaining in the game. The Panthers pushed that lead out to seven, 49-42, with 11:38 to go, but failed to score again for the next four and a half minutes.
“We talked about how we didn’t want this to be Ja’Nell’s last game,” said Funderburk. “So we wanted to do whatever we could out there to win. It’s all extremely exciting.”
The Lakers regained the lead during that stretch and led by as many as four, but couldn’t hold the lead as another 3-pointer from Funderburk put the Panthers back within one, and a pair of free throws from forward Erica Groose put the Panthers ahead, 54-53.
The Panthers fell behind one last time before the Panthers took over for good with 3:18 left to play. The Panthers pulled ahead by as many as eight, 65-57, thanks in part to an important 3-pointer from Jones, and forced the Lakers to foul to stop the clock. The Lakers shaved one point off that lead, but ran out of time to do any more damage.