BATESVILLE, Ark. – The William Woods junior tandem of Priscila Santos and Katie Scherder combined for 41 second-half points as the Owls came back from a 14-point halftime deficit against No. 17-ranked Lyon College and outscored the Scots 56-28 in the final 20 minutes to knock Lyon out of the American Midwest Conference Women's Postseason Tournament and advance to the title game for the fifth straight year with an 83-69 win in James C. Becknell Gymnasium Friday night.
Lyon College (28-4), which had its 12-game winning streak snapped and lost for just the second time in its last 21 games, was eliminated from the tournament, but remains very much alive in its quest for a second straight trip to the NAIA Division I Women's National Tournament.
No. 23-ranked and third-seeded William Woods (25-5), will now play AMC regular season co-champion and 15th-ranked Columbia College for the tournament title on Monday at 7 p.m. in Columbia, Mo. The Cougars reached the title game with a 68-40 home win over No. 4-seed Williams Baptist College (17-15) Friday night.
If William Woods defeats Columbia on Monday, the Owls will clinch the second automatic bid from the AMC for the national tournament. Columbia has already claimed the first bid because the Cougars were co-champions with Lyon for the regular season title and claimed the tie-breaker because of the point differential in the games between the two teams.
If Columbia College (26-6) wins Monday and claims the tournament championship, Lyon College will receive the second automatic bid by virtue of the co-championship during the regular season. But even if William Woods receives the second bid, it is likely, because of their national ranking and 28-4 season record, that the Scots would receive an at-large bid to the national tournament, which will be played in Frankfort, Ky. on March 13-19.
Lyon College rolled into halftime of Friday's game with a 41-27 lead, held the momentum, and the Scots had the hometown crowd behind them. Lyon forced 13 turnovers in the first 20 minutes and committed only five. The Scots also outrebounded the Owls, 19-15, in the period.
Santos and Scherder didn't shoot the ball better in the second half, just began getting more looks at the basket. After shooting a combined 6-for-10 (60%) from the field in the first half, the pair connected on 16-of-22 (72.7%) in the second half to pace the comeback.
Santos scored a career-high 32 points on 13-of-21 shooting from the field and 6-of-10 from the free throw line. She also added eight rebounds and a pair of assists. Scherder was red-hot, converting 9-of-11 from the field, including 3-of-4 from behind the three-point arc. She posted a career-high herself, throwing in 21 points, while hauling in 11 rebounds.
As a team, the Owls hit 47.8% (11-of-23) in the first half, but improved that to 65.6% (21-of-32) to finish with a 58.2 percentile (32-of-55).
Meanwhile, Lyon College hit 44.7% (17-of-38) from the field in the first half, but that dipped to 33.3% (12-of-36) in the second period, as the Scots finished the game hitting only 39.2% (29-of-74).
Senior Debbie Onukwube led the balanced Lyon attack, hitting 7-of-14 field goals for 14 points. But only four of those points came after intermission.
Sophomore Whitney Keith scored 13 points, hauled in five rebounds and produced three steals, but Keith only scored three points after the half.
Senior Suzanne Fincham scored 10 points and added six rebounds for the Scots, Gabby Jenkins also scored 10 points, and added seven boards. Christine Smith chipped in nine points, Taylor Grigg scored eight, Phagen Altom was held to three and Jahnette Epperson scored two points.
The contest was close for the first 8:25 as the Scots held a slim 14-12 lead. But Lyon then went on a 16-2 run over the next 4:27 to open up a 30-14 advantage with 7:08 left in the half.
Trailing by 14 to start the second half, the Owls outscored Lyon 39-13 in the first 13:40 of the second half and went on a 23-5 spurt during 8:10 of that run to open up a 68-54 lead with 6:20 on the clock.
Lyon could not trim the deficit closer than 12 points the rest of the way.