Women’s College Basketball: St. Xavier falls to College of the Ozarks in NAIA national tourney opener
By Dennis Nelson For Sun-Times Media March 13, 2014 5:16PM
Updated: April 15, 2014 6:26AM
St. Xavier picked the wrong time of the season to play its worst game.
The No. 2-seed Cougars shot just 24 percent in dropping a 68-43 decision to No. 7 College of the Ozarks in the opening round of the NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship Thursday in Sioux City, Iowa.
The Cougars (27-6) entered the tournament as the No. 6 team in the country, but made 17-of-71 shots. Ozarks (24-9), of Point Lookout, Mo., featured five players with at least nine points.
“I’ve been doing this a long time and I can’t remember a season ending like this,” St. Xavier coach Bob Hallberg said after concluding his 14th season with the Cougars. “You almost always end with a loss, but not like this. We did not end the season with a good game.”
St. Xavier’s output was a little more than half of its season average of 79.6.
“The way we shot and how poorly we played, we did not put on a good exhibition in front of the NAIA fans, which were curious about our No. 6 ranking,” Hallberg said. “We didn’t play to our ranking at all.”
Morgan Stuut posted her 25th double-double of the season, scoring 14 points and recording 13 rebounds. No other Cougar reached double figures in scoring.
“You can have a game like that in the middle of the season,” Hallberg said. “You can’t do that the last game of the season because there’s no tomorrow. It’s a shame.”
St. Xavier was ahead 4-3 when Ozarks scored the next nine points and never was headed. Alice Heinzler’s basket off a St. Xavier turnover gave Ozarks a 13-4 lead with 14:46 left in the first half. The Cougars were 2-of-8 and had four turnovers during the first five minutes.
A 10-0 Ozarks run later in the half pushed the lead to 35-17 with 3:34 left. Ozarks led 41-21 at halftime.
Ozarks had 16 points in the paint and 13 off turnovers during the first 20 minutes.
“Coaches use the terms composure and panic a lot,” Hallberg said. “We didn’t play with composure early in the ballgame. After losing our composure, we went into a panic situation and threw up shots trying to win the ball game on one possession.”
The Cougars trailed 43-21 early in the second half before rallying. St. Xavier outscored Ozarks 10-2 to slice the lead to 45-31 on a putback by Caitlin McMahon with 13:12 to play. Leading 54-40, the Bobcats went on a 14-0 run to build their largest lead.