The DII Women’s Elite Eight ended in stunning fashion. No. 6-seeded Central Missouri did the unthinkable, winning its first national championship since 1984 while ending Ashland’s record-setting winning streak at 73 games.
There were plenty of players who shined in the brightest lights of the DII women’s basketball season. These five did it better than anyone else.
Guard: Paige Redmond, Central Missouri
Redmond put together a huge finale against Ashland, reeling off 22 points going 4-for-7 from 3. The big game earned Redmond Elite Eight Most Outstanding Player honors.
Congratulations to junior guard Paige Redmond on being named to @NCAADII #EliteEight Most Valuable Player! She had a game-high 22 points tonight to help lead the Jens to National Championship! #Together #teamUCM pic.twitter.com/UDYN68Ewzg— JENNIES BASKETBALL (@UCMWBB) March 24, 2018
The junior guard averaged 17.5 points in the entire tournament but came up big when it mattered most. She led a balanced attack that was most impressive on defense. The Jennies' defense held two teams under 50, allowed just one team to eclipse the 60-point mark and held the NCAA record-setting offense of Ashland to just 52 points.
Guard/ Forward: Megan Smith, Indiana (Pa)
Simply put, Smith had a tremendous March. She averaged 18.4 points per game on the season but eclipsed the 20-point mark in four of five tournament games. Smith also proved to be a presence on the boards, ripping down 37 in five games.
Smith was IUP’s leading scorer in the Elite Eight. She scored 22 and 21 points in Game 1 and Game 2. Smith ripped down nine rebounds in Game 1, and while she was held off the defensive glass in Game 2, she had three offensive boards helping to keep drives alive.
Forward: Andi Daugherty, Ashland
Andi Daugherty is the third player in program history to reach points in her career! pic.twitter.com/NgZZhwFAiJ— Ashland University Eagles (@goashlandeagles) March 22, 2018
The first half of Ashland’s dynamic duo came out firing in Sioux Falls before struggling in the championship game loss. She scored 20 and 21 points in the first two contests, all while shooting 68 percent after a nearly-flawless 9-for-10 performance in Game 2. Daugherty became the third player in Ashland history to eclipse the 2,000-point mark, graduating with Laina Snyder as two-thirds of the elite club. She was also a presence on the glass, ripping down 17 boards in the Elite Eight.
Forward: Kayonna Lee, Central Missouri
Lee had a nice season for the Jennies averaging 8.7 points and 8.5 rebounds per night. She found another gear in the tournament, specifically in the Elite Eight.
Lee scored 35 points while grabbing 28 rebounds in Sioux Falls. That included her second double-double of the tournament, going for 14 and 11 in a decisive win against Union (Tenn.) in the semifinals. Lee, who also played football growing up, was more important than stats, providing a much-needed toughness in the paint.
Center: Laina Snyder, Ashland
Kudos to Central Missouri. The Jennies held Snyder in check, resulting in an 8-for-20 shooting day. That said, Snyder still posted a team-high 16 points.
Snyder averaged 19.8 points per game in the tournament, scoring 61 points in the Elite Eight alone. She had an unbelievable game against Indiana (Pa) in the semifinals going for 23 points and 20 rebounds while chipping in six assists as well. Snyder leaves Ashland as its all-time leading scorer.
Other great performances:
Alisha Breen, Montana State Billings: Breen made her lone trip to the Elite Eight count. One of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference’s all-time leading scorers and rebounders finished her illustrious career by going off for 25 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists against Ashland in one of the better all-around performances of the tournament.
Kelly Martin, Stonehill: Martin and her teammate Courtney Walsh combined for 52 off the Skyhawks 71 points in the quarterfinals. Martin went off for 27 points and 20 rebounds, going 16-for-18 from the line.
Kayla Marosites, Carson-Newman: Though the No. 2-seeded Eagles were upset, Marosites continued her impressive breakout season. She recorded a double-double in the loss, going for 11 and 14.