Spartans Eliminated by Knights in Wild Finish
Feb 28, 2015
DUBUQUE, Iowa - After trailing for most of the second half, the University of Dubuque women's basketball team cut the Wartburg lead to one with 22 seconds to go, only to see the Knights hang on, 72-68, in the Iowa Conference (IIAC) semifinals thanks to a trio of free throws and a pivotal turnover down the stretch.
Seeking their second IIAC Championship berth in three years, the Spartans fell just short after winning the regular season IIAC title. Despite an efficient effort from senior Meggie Schmidt, the Spartans (17-9) were stung by the play of the Knights' Bobbie Burrows and Kailey Kladivo.
With UD down 68-63 and 32 ticks on the clock, senior Jenna Kotas clutch layup down the middle of the lane sliced the Knights lead to 68-65. Goetz countered a Wartburg free throw with the biggest three of the season from the right wing to pull UD to 69-68 with 22 seconds on the clock. Wartburg went 1 of 3 from the charity stripe as UD got the ball, down 70-68 with eight seconds remaining.
A crucial baseline drive that saw contact by both sides resulted in a costly turnover as the Knights' Burrows sealed the game at the line for the game's final margin.
After combining for 24 points on 11 of 27 shooting in UD's 80-54 home win earlier in the season, Burrows and Kladivo both finished with 18 points and five rebounds. All five of Burrows field goals came from the three-point line as she seemed to score when needed most. Kladivo ended 7 of 10 as the offense ran the ball through her early and often.
Schmidt led the team in scoring with 17 points on 7-for-13 shooting despite playing 25 minutes due to foul trouble. The Edgerton, Wis. native's fourth foul came with 10:26 to play, shortly before Kladivo's jumper put UD in a 10-point hole, their largest deficit of the game. A 7-0 run ensued by the Spartans initiated by a pair of Abbey Meyer free throws and capped with a Meyer layup off a Jessica Goetz steal that pulled UD to within 52-49.
Wartburg's Burrows buried a deep three-pointer, six-feet beyond the arc, to boost the Knights and stop the bleeding. Eight of Wartburg's next 13 points came at the charity stripe to set up the nailbiting finish with 43 seconds to go.
The Knights (17-10), aided by 14 UD fouls, drained 15 of 20 free throws in the second half and ended 19 of 25 for the game. UD responded with a 17-for-21 performance at the line and a 30-16 advantage inside the paint. Overall, both teams shot 40% in a game that featuerd six ties and 10 lead changes.
Seniors Brittany Collier and Kotas, who transferred to UD from Clarke University together, scored 12 and 13 points, respectively, to back up Schmidt. Kotas, the IIAC scoring champion at 18.1 points per game, played 38 minutes in potentially her final game in the blue and white. The Tinley Park, Ill. native totaled 11 of her 13 points in the second half.
Collier, dared to shoot the long ball after being guarded by Wartburg's centers throughout the game, flashed her long range ability after canning her first two shots of the game, both threes, as her and Schmidt led the Spartans with 10 points in the first half. A 27-foot three-pointer by Burrows at the buzzer saw UD go into the half facing a 33-32 deficit after compiling a seven-point lead with 8:54 remaining in the first.
The Spartans finish their season with 17 wins, second-most in school history. They currently rank eighth in the West region and have a narrow chance of receiving at at-large bid to the Division III NCAA tournament.
UD dropped its second straight game vs. Wartburg after winning eight of the last nine prior to the Knights' streak.
Wartburg moves on to face Luther for a crack at the Iowa Conference title and an automatic bid to the Division III NCAA tournament. The Spartans torched Luther, 94-81, after shooting nearly 59% from the field in their regular season finale on February 21.