Drury women advance to NCAA Division 2 title game with win Wednesday
The Drury women will play for the Division II National Championship after beating Lander 74-65 in the National Semifinals on Wednesday. The Lady Panthers will play the winner of Lubbock Christian and Central Missouri at 7 pm on Friday night.
Drury held off a furious rally from Lander to advance.
The Lady Panthers led by 11, 65-54, with 3:27 left in the game before Division II National Player of the Year Paige Robinson briefly exited the game with an ankle injury. Lander cut that lead to two, 67-65, but Drury was able to hold on down the stretch for the win. Robinson did return to the court with her ankle taped up.
Prior to Lander’s run, Drury followed a similar script as they did in the quarterfinal game using a big run through the second and third quarters to gain control of the game. The Lady Panthers trailed Lander by nine at 31-22 with 3:25 left until the half. They would go on a 32-13 run over the next 8:12 of game time to go up 54-44 with 1:37 left in the third quarter.
Robinson, who averages 21.3 points per game, was a key piece of that run. She had just six points over the first two quarters. She would score 13 of Drury’s 23 third-quarter points on her way to a team-high 26 points. In addition, Robinson had six rebounds, three assists and three steals.
“That’s Paige. That’s what she does for us. She is a big time player, the National Player of the Year, and she steps up for us a lot whenever we need to make some things happen. I thought she really did that today,” Drury head coach Amy Eagan said in a post-game interview with CBS Sports.
Azia Lynch had a career night with 22 points and a career-high 15 rebounds.
Lynch’s work defensively on Lander All-American Makaila Cange was just as important as her offensive output. Cange was averaging 18 points per game coming in, and she scored 26 in Lander’s Elite 8 win. Lynch with help from Drury’s zone held Cange to just seven points on 1-for-2 shooting from the field.
“She (Lynch) battled today,” Eagan said. “She did such a good job with her poise around the rim. (She) really just kept it out of the post, and that is what we knew we needed to do. We knew they were a big high-low team. I thought we did a good job of keeping it out of the middle third and denying that really hard. Obviously our zone was huge today, and we aren’t even a zone team. We kind of lived and died by that today.”
Alana Findley also had a career-high in rebounds with 14 to go with six points for Drury. Katie Kirkhart gave Drury a third player in double figures with 10.
Drury out-rebounded Lander 50-38 with a 13-7 advantage on the offensive glass.
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