SIOUX CITY, Iowa -- It wasn't easy, but then again, it's the national tournament and victories don't usually come easily this time of year. A hot start by Micha Mims and dominant post play from Bria Fields and Amanda Frost powered 12th-ranked Mount Mercy to a 69-67 victory over 22nd-ranked Southwestern (Kan.) in the first round of the NAIA Division II Women's Basketball National Championship at the Tyson Events Center.
This is Mount Mercy's first national tournament appearance in 17 years, and its first win at nationals since clinching a Final Four berth in 1995. The Mustangs, seeded third in their section of the bracket, face second-seeded and fifth-ranked Morningside in a Sweet 16 matchup on Friday at 5:15 p.m. Morningside edged seventh-seeded Daemen (N.Y.), 65-60, earlier Wednesday night. The two teams met in the second game of the season, with Morningside defeating Mount Mercy, 95-64, in Sioux City.
Mims knocked down three early treys and scored 11 of Mount Mercy's first 18 points on Wednesday. But it was Fields and Frost that carried the Mustangs the remainder of the half. They combined for 11 straight points to give Mount Mercy a 29-22 advantage with 6:36 left in the opening period. Consecutive buckets by Fields to open the second half put the Mustangs in front, 45-34. The Moundbuilders wouldn't go away however, and made it a one-possession game, 52-49, on a basket by Brittney Chamberlin just under the 11-minute mark.
Southwestern was able to get within a point four times in the game's final nine minutes, but they never grabbed the lead. After two foul shots by Kristy Herman cut Mount Mercy's advantage to 64-63 with 28 seconds on the clock, Mims hit four straight free throws to put the Mustangs up, 68-64, with 13 seconds remaining and Becca Lampe added one more with three seconds to go that sealed Mount Mercy's 11th win in 12 games.
Fields finished with a game-high 18 points and five rebounds for the Mustangs (26-8). Mims ended up with 16 points and three steals, while Frost posted a double-double that included 15 points and 12 boards. Emily Greiner joined them in double figures with 10 points. She also had six rebounds and a pair of steals. Brooke Quigley tallied seven points, eight boards and six assists. Laura Lippert also collected eight rebounds and three steals and Lampe hauled down six boards.
Brett Bates scored 13 points for the Lady Builders (23-9). Kaitlin Tennyson added 12 points and four assists, Montana Rickey 10 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots.
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