Conference Rivals #9 MNU vs. # 22 Baker
March 22 at 6:30 p.m.
NAIA Recap | The Pioneers will play for the national title after a 78-70 victory over Pikeville in the semifinals on Monday. MNU took control right away when Tristin Wicks scored underneath on the opening possession and Kyleesha Weston stole the ensuing inbounds pass and scored. The Pioneers scored the next 8 points as well to take a 12-0 lead after 6 minutes of play. At the end of the first quarter, MNU led 19-7. The Pioneers won the second quarter 19-15 to take a 16-point lead into halftime.
But Pikeville didn't go quietly. They used a 9-2 run to spark a 24-16 third quarter to get back to within 8 heading to the fourth, and the lead was cut to 4 early in the final period. MNU built the lead back to 10, but Pikeville again got it within 4 with a 6-0 run. Megan Balcom nailed a three-pointer to push the lead back to 3 possessions, and the Pioneers hit enough free throws down the stretch to hold off their feisty opponent.
Tristin Wicks led the way with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Kyleesha Weston had 16 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals. Jasmine Webb added 12 points. Megan Balcom had 12 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists. Bailey Rinehart had 10 points. Nathalie Felipe had 9 points and 6 rebounds off the bench. And Whitney Moia hauled in 8 rebounds and blocked 4 shots in 15 minutes off the bench.
#9 MNU is 31-5. They will play for the national title on Tuesday at 6:30 vs. conference rival and 22-ranked Baker (28-8) at the Silverstein Eye Center in Independence, Missouri.
Kansas City Star photo gallery of MNU vs. Pikeville.