ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Katie Stone was not having a good shooting night. Stone, the sophomore guard from Eau Claire, came into Friday’s NCAA Division III playoff opener averaging 10.4 points, but she missed her first six shots against a pesky Loras zone defense and had just one point.
Then she got open in a corner and hit a 3-pointer to give St. Thomas (Minn.) a four-point lead with 6:23 minutes to go. Two minutes later, she nailed a second trey from the top of the key to boost the lead to 49-43, and her team held on for a 52-49 win.
The No. 15 Tommies (23-4) advance to Saturday night’s second-round game against Wisconsin-Whitewater.
Stone said she never had any doubt that she eventually would make a shot against Loras (19-9). It just took longer – a lot longer – than she expected.
Loras led 8-7 when St. Thomas went on a 7-0 run to jump ahead 14-8, but the Duhawks scored 11 points in a row for a 21-16 lead. The Tommies stiffened on defense, holding Loras scoreless the last 9:22 of the half and going on a 13-0 run to lead 29-21 at the break.
A Maggie Weiers layup three minutes into the second half gave St. Thomas a 33-22 lead and, it seemed, control of the game. But a 14-1 run during the next seven minutes gave Loras a 36-34 lead midway through the half.
The Tommies went ahead for good 39-38 at the 9:15 mark on a Dockter layup but led by only one when Stone made her first three-pointer. Young followed up with a jumper and a 46-40 lead. After three Loras free throws, Stone made her second trey and another six-point lead.
The Duhawks climbed to within two points twice in the final 30 seconds. But Young and Weiers hit three of four free throws, and a three-point Loras shot at the buzzer was off the mark.
Weiers, Young and guard Kelly Brandenburg each had 11 points for the Tommies, who shot 40 percent for the game, were outrebounded 37-31 and had 17 turnovers to Loras’ 20. Katie Wheeler was the only Duhawk in double figures, with 10 points, and her team shot 36 percent from the field.
The St. Thomas win was the only one of the evening for five MIAC basketball teams in playoff action.