SEARCY, ARK. – The Concordia (St. Paul) women’s basketball team continued its impressive postseason run with a 70-67 victory over top-seeded Emporia State in the championship game of the NCAA Division II Central Regional on Monday night.
In their third Sweet 16 appearance, the Golden Bears advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time. They will play for a berth in the Final Four next week in Erie, Pa.
Anika Whiting, who led Concordia with 26 points, made one of two free throws with 11 seconds remaining to give her team a 70-67 lead against Emporia State. The Lady Hornets then missed a three-pointer with one second remaining for only their fourth loss of the season.
“I thought that three was going in and we were going to overtime,” Golden Bears coach Paul Fessler said. “I can’t say how proud I am of the team and our program in reaching our first Elite Eight.”
Whiting, a 6-2 junior from Ashland, Wis., was named the region’s most outstanding player. She had a career-high 32 points on Saturday against Central Missouri.
Concordia (28-8), the fourth-place finisher in the NSIC during the regular season, has caught fire in the postseason. In winning its regional, the seventh-seeded Golden Bears took out the top three seeds. They have won nine in a row and 17 of 19.
Concordia lost to Emporia State 71-52 on Nov. 11 in Anaheim, Calif.
The Golden Bears led 32-27 at halftime, then opened the second half with a 20-7 run. But the Lady Hornets (30-4) responded with a 27-13 run. They got within two points twice in the final two minutes.
Carissa Wolyniec added 16 points for the Golden Bears, who relied almost entirely on their starting five. Ameshia Kearney added 14, and Kionda Nicks contributed six points and 14 rebounds.
Concordia shot 50 percent from the field (25-of-50).