Knights Top Cougars to Win UMAC Tourney Title
NEW ULM, Minn. - The MLC women's basketball team beat Minnesota, Morris by the score of 69-63 Saturday night to win the UMAC Postseason Tournament championship and advance to the NCAA Division III National Tournament.
The game was as close as expected between the conference co-champions from the regular season, with MLC holding a lead for much of the way before winning the second UMAC Tournament title in program history, and the first since the 2005-06 season.
The Knights started the game hot from the field, taking a 6-0 lead on the way to a 37-29 halftime lead. Erica Babinec was the shooting star for MLC in the half, scoring a game-high 12 points before the break.
The Knights built the lead to 61-49 with 9:53 to play in the game before the defending tournament champs from UMM made an 11-0 run to cut the deficit to one, and then tied the game at 63-63 with a three-pointer from Allie Sannes with 4:02 to play.
Following several stops from both teams, the Knights took the lead with 2:46 to play on a pair of Brittney Gossen free throws, and then shut the Cougars out the rest of the way while icing the game away with four free throws in the final minute.
Free throws were a big story in the game, with MLC finishing the night 18-18 from the charity stripe, while the Cougars were only able to get to the line five times in the game, making four of them.
Babinec finished with a game-high 22 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, helping her win Most Valuable Player honors for the tournament. In the two games, Babinec averaged 17 points and 12.5 rebounds per game.
Amanda Burk joined Babinec with a double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Brittney Gossen added ten points and five rebounds.
The Cougars were led by Emily Mehr, who finished with 21 points and five rebounds. Jenni Noordmans added nine points, seven rebounds and three steals.
With the win, MLC heads into the NCAA Division III Tournament with a record of 20-7, while UMM finished its season with a record of 18-9.
MLC will find out its tournament match-up and destination on Monday, February 27, when the selection show airs on d3hoops.com at 1:30 p.m.