The Shawnee State women’s basketball program had its season come to an end prematurely on Thursday afternoon, falling to William Woods (Mo.) 88-85 in the first round of the NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship, presented by Wells Fargo.
At the beginning of the affair, William Woods flew out to a 14-4 lead, highlighted by two breakaway layups from Peyton Greenlee. Shawnee State battled back in the first quarter as Jonessa Moore hitting two free throws to put the Bears up 22-21, but Ashton Lovely fouled Kaycee Gerald with time expiring on a three-point attempt, and Gerald put the Owls up 24-22 at the end of the frame by hitting each of the resulting free throws.
After battling back to make the bout close once again in the first quarter, the Owls went on another 14-4 run to go up by a 43-32 margin midway through the second frame of action. While the Bears cut the lead back to single digits, at one point to as few as six on a Moore layup, Greenlee came back with a three to put William Woods back up 49-40, and that score held up at halftime.
Behind an outstanding 36-point effort by Moore, Shawnee State mounted a furious rally in the second half, starting with a 22-15 third quarter to cut the lead to two. Moore had 10 points in the quarter to lead the charge, with Hannah Miller hitting two layups to aid the cause.
As the fourth quarter played out, the Bears and Owls traded punches, with Shawnee State cutting the lead to as few as one but failing to get over the hump in each rally. The Bears had a chance to send the game to overtime in the contest’s final possession, but Bailey Cummins would see a three pointer rim out at the buzzer as the Bears would have their hearts broken in the first round with the 88-85 defeat.
With her career-high 36 points, Moore led the Bears’ efforts in the loss. Madison Ridout and Lydia Poe each had 10. The Bears, who shot 40.8 percent from three for the season, were 2-of-20 from behind the arc on Thursday.
Jasmine Brown had 24 points to lead William Woods. Kaycee Gerald had 22, Peyton Greenlee added 17 and Kelsey Scherder had 11 to help the Owls to the upset.
With the loss, Shawnee State’s season comes to a close. The Bears finished the year 31-3 and were Mid-South Conference Regular Season and Tournament Champions, winning the league for the second consecutive year and the tournament for the third. Shawnee State had won 11 straight games before its season-ending defeat to the Owls, and its three losses on the year came by a combined total of 13 points.