It was an inauspicious debut for a pair of Fort Wayne women’s basketball squads Wednesday at the 2017 NAIA Division II National Tournament in Sioux City, Iowa.
Both Saint Francis and Indiana Tech fell in their openers, though both games were competitive.
The Warriors chased after Tabor (Kan.) all game before faltering late and dropping a 67-58 decision, while Saint Francis fell to Davenport 80-73.
Indiana Tech coach Jessie Biggs told The News-Sentinel recently that she “never thinks our defense is good enough,” and that was the case Wednesday.
Tabor (27-6) made 6 of its first seven shots and forced Indiana Tech (25-8) to play from behind the rest of the game.
“All around,” Biggs said, “we weren’t as aggressive as we needed to be. Part of that was being nervous and tentative.”
The Blue Jays finished the game having made 50 percent of its shots, while the Warriors connected on just 41 percent of its shots.
Indiana Tech trimmed its deficit to two late in the third quarter, but Tabor answered with more offense to stretch its lead back to nine with 4:15 remaining in the game.
“They were a solid team,” Biggs said of Tabor. “They’re not going to make mistakes to beat themselves. We missed some shots that we usually hit, which would’ve given us some momentum.”
Former Leo High School standout Keanna Gary paced the Warriors with 15 points, while her high school and college teammate, Taylor Seiss added 14 in her final college game.
Warrior guard Haley Cook scored 12 points and grabbed six boards, while former Heritage High standout Kendall Knapke added eight points and six rebounds.
Saint Francis knew that Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference power Davenport would be a challenge to battle with, and the Panthers (31-3) proved to be just that. However, the Cougars (18-16) competed well throughout the game.
Davenport led by 11 early in the final quarter, but Saint Francis made a run to trim its deficit to 61-57. However, the Panthers absorbed that run by the Cougars and fought back to stretch their lead quickly back to nine with a four-point play.
Saint Francis still only trailed 77-73 in the final minute, but free throws sealed the win for Davenport.
Freshman forward Kara Gerka led Saint Francis with 21 points and eight rebounds, while classmate Lauren McBryar added 17 points and nine boards.
Former Northrop High standout Quila totaled 14 points in her final game as a Cougar, while Norwell grad Paige Frisch closed her college career with 10 points and five rebounds.
The loss was just the second for Saint Francis in the past nine games, as the Cougars closed out its season playing tremendous basketball.