FRANKFORT, Ky. – (Box Score) Rogers State (Okla.) sank 7-of-8 free throws in the final 52 seconds of overtime to knock off Cumberlands (Ky.), 80-73, in the day-one finale of the NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship presented by Kentuckytourism.com.
The win by the Hillcats completed a bracket full of upsets. They will advance to play Shorter (Ga.) at 6:15 Friday night, with the winner of that playing the winner of Georgetown (Ky.) and Avila (Mo.) for the right to advance to Monday night’s Fab Four.
Cumberlands (28-4) pulled within one on a layup by Haley Ratliff with 1:43 to play, making it 71-70. It would prove to be the final points for the senior, who had nine of her team’s final 16 points in regulation, including a layup with 8.2 seconds left to push it to overtime tied at 63.
It was the fourth overtime period of the day and pushed the eighth game of Wednesday into the early minutes of Thursday morning.
But after Ratliff’s layup, Rogers State scored nine of the game’s final 12 points. Only the first, on a spin move in the lane by junior Logan Froese with 1:22 remaining, came from the field.
Rogers State (21-11), in its second trip to the tournament and earning its first win, blistered the nets with 53.1 percent shooting after halftime and rode its overtime shooting to a 21-of-30 performance from the line.
In a game full of runs, the Hillcats opened the second half with six straight points to take a 35-24 lead with 17:05 to play on a basket by Froese. From there, however, Cumberlands held them without a field goal for 4:08 and got nine points from Lauren Wombles in a 14-1 run to take a 38-36 lead with 13:13 left.
The Hillcats responded with an 11-3 run of their own, only to see Wombles turn in her own six-point run to tie the game at 47. Rogers State then flipped in seven unanswered, setting the stage for Ratliff’s regulation-ending stretch.
Froese paced the Hillcats with 21 points and with eight rebounds. Three teammates joined her in double figures, as Leah Smith fired in 16, Sierra Cornwell finished with 14 and Gianna Woods tossing in 10.
Wombles, the Mid-South Conference player of the year who became her school’s all-time leading scorer in the conference tournament also held at the Frankfort Convention Center, poured in 35 points to lead all scorers on opening day. Ratliff joined her with 12 points and eight rebounds.