Benedictine senior Jackie Ziesel could not help but tear up as her basketball career with the Ravens drew to a close on Friday afternoon.
Ziesel leaves Benedictine as the 17th women’s basketball player to score more than 1,000 points and has two NAIA Division I Tournament appearances to her name, but that could not dull the pain of a 69-62 loss to top-seeded Freed-Hardeman University in a second-round game at the Independence Events Center.
“It means everything,” Ziesel said. “I don’t want it to be done.”
The Ravens, who trailed by as many as 13 points in the first half, cut the margin to five points on a basket from Bishop Miege graduate Lexi Villegas with 2 minutes, 35 seconds left in the game. They were forced to foul and let the game slip away.
Regardless, coach Chad Folsom saw the Ravens’ ability to hang with the nation’s unanimous No. 1 team as a positive step moving forward.
“I think we realize what it is like to play the No. 1 team in the country and that we are not far off from that,” Folsom said. “We know we are doing things the right way and look forward to those opportunities as they come.”
Freed-Hardeman brought a balanced attack with four scorers finishing in double figures and two with double-doubles. Hayley Newby led the way with 22 points, Paige Melville had 11, Grace Alonso de Armino added 11 points and 11 rebounds, and Brandee Busenlehner had 10 points and 10 recounds.
Jordan Kramer led the Ravens with 16 points and Heart of America Conference player of the year Chayla Rutledge added 11. Ziesel scored four points in the final game of her career.
Benedictine came into the season not knowing quite what to expect after losing six seniors and four starters. In fact, the Ravens started the season 3-4 before finding themselves and finishing 26-9.
“It took us a while to get adjusted, but from Thanksgiving on is when the magic started happening,” Folsom said. “I thought this team really exceeded expectations.”
The Ravens have now recorded 20 or more victories in nine of Folsom’s 14 years at the helm and have made the second round of the NAIA Tournament twice in the last three seasons.
Benedictine will say goodbye to five seniors but will return three starters and four bench players with national tournament experience.
“For the future seasons, if they keep working hard, they will make it to nationals every year,” Ziesel said.
▪ CAMPBELLSVILLE (KY.) 52, MIDAMERICA NAZARENE 45: MidAmerica Nazarene’s season ended with a loss in the second round of the NAIA tournament Friday at the Independence Events Center.
For the fourth time in their last six appearances in the national championship, Campbellsville advanced to the quarterfinals.
Madison Clements led Campbellsville, 31-3, with 12 points. Daria Sprew had 17 for MidAmerica, which finished 27-7.
▪ OKLAHOMA BAPTIST 77, OUR LADY OF THE LAKE (TEXAS) 75: Oklahoma Baptist rallied from a 19-point deficit.
Oklahoma Baptist trailed 50-31 with 17 mintes to play, but it chipped found and trailed just 75-72 after McKenzie Cooper’s three-pointer. Oklahoma Baptist then won the game by making its last five free throws while holding Our Lady of the Lake scoreless.
Cooper finished with 20 points.
▪ GREAT FALLS (MONT.) 72, LANGSTON (OKLA.) 69: Lindsey Abramson only shot one three-pointer in the game and that is all she needed. The buzzer-beating shot lifted Great Falls to the semifinals. She finished with 19 points and Erin Legel led the team with 21.
▪ OKLAHOMA CITY 87, SHAWNEE STATE (OHIO) 68: No. 1 seed Oklahoma City scored 34 of its points off Shawnee State’s 24 turnovers to ease into the quarterfinals. Yvonte Neal led the attack with 28 points, which included a five-for-nine performance from beyond the arc.
▪ MONTANA STATE 73, NEW ORLEANS 54: A’Jha Edwards scored a game-high 35 points on a 16-for-22 performance from the field. She also pulled down 28 rebounds, which included 23 on the defense boards.
▪ WESTMINSTER (UTAH) 68, WESTMONT (CALIF.) 59: Lauren McCoy, who was nine of 12 from teh field, led all scorers with 20 points for Westmont. Amy Krommenhoek scored 16 for Westminster.