Catherine Haikin, senior guard, runs the ball along the touchline before making a 2-point basket during the game against Kansas Wesleyan. Lady Builders won 76-63. (Jonathan Woon/Collegian photographer)

By Clinton Dick
Staff reporter

For the first time in three years the Lady Builders will be playing for the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference women’s basketball title. They earned a trip to the championship final against Sterling College with a 76-63 win over Kansas Wesleyan University in Stewart Field House Saturday afternoon. Sterling beat the top seeded Lady Falcons of Friends University in Wichita the same day in overtime.

With a win over Sterling, Southwestern will not only win the KCAC title, but get an automatic bid to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics national tournament in Sioux City, Iowa. If they fall to Sterling, the only way they can get into the tournament is if they are awarded an at-large bid.

A quick 10-0 run put the Lady Builders up early in their game against the Lady Coyotes 14-5 with 15:40 remaining in the first half. Their quick start allowed them to control most of the first half as the team was aggressive with the ball down low. Southwestern scored 29 points in the paint in the first half. They built their largest lead at the 4:35 mark, going up 36-22.

A 10-2 Lady Coyote run cut that lead to eight with two minutes remaining. The run was capped off with a three-point basket made by Taylor Ebert, sophomore guard.

Southwestern responded with a run of their own to cap off the final two minutes in the first half. As time expired, Kristy Herman, junior guard, knocked down a shot that gave the team a 45-32 lead going into the locker rooms.

Kansas Wesleyan came out a new team in the second half and chipped away at the Lady Builder lead. Shelby Babcock, senior guard, hit three consecutive three-point baskets for the Lady Coyotes to cut the lead to 53-48 at the 12:56 mark. They didn’t stop there as Rhys Pihl, senior guard, hit a drive in layup and was fouled to give Kansas Wesleyan an opportunity at a three-point play with 8:15 left on the clock. Pihl hit her ensuing free throw to put her team within two 59-57.

It was Brittney Chamberlin, junior guard, for the Lady Builders who connected on a huge three-point basket with 5:40 to that put the team back up by seven 64-57. Her shot was part of an 11-2 Southwestern run. That run put Southwestern up for good.

After an explosive first half on the offensive end for the Lady Builders, the team hit just four of 22 shots in the second. They were saved by making the most of their opportunities from the foul line. Southwestern hit 29 of 33 free throws overall and 22 of 25 in the second half.

Kaitlin Tennyson was a big part of the team’s success from the line as she went eight of nine from the foul line. She led the team in scoring with 17 points. Brett Bates, senior guard, followed with 16 points.

Babcock and Pihl led the way for Kansas Wesleyan with 18 points each. The Lady Coyotes hit 10 three-point shots during the game, but committed 15 costly turnovers.

The KCAC championship game will take place at 6:10 p.m. Monday for the women with the men’s game directly following. The game will be played at Hartman Arena in Park City.

Clinton Dick is a junior majoring in convergent journalism. You may e-mail him at clinton.dick@sckans.edu.