Three of the four quarterfinals were decided by single digits. There was one overtime contest and one game that came down to a final possession, according to Tom Savage of the Argus Leader.
No. 14 California University of Pennsylvania needed overtime after blowing a nine-point lead to hold off No. 18 Nova Southeastern (86-77), while No. 4 Lewis had three three-pointers rim out in the final 15 seconds, as No. 2 Limestone advanced to its first ever Final Four with a 61-58 victory.
No. 7 Emporia State and unranked Cal Baptist pulled upsets — at least according to WBCA/USA Today Coaches rankings — to advance to the Final Four. Emporia State defeated No. 5 West Texas A&M 62-50 and Cal Baptist upended No. 23 New Haven (86-77).
Here is a preview of the Final Four, which is being played on Thursday at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
About the teams
CalU is located in California, Pennsylvania, which is a small town in Washington County. The Vulcans, out of the PSAC, are making their third Final Four appearance, but first since winning the national championship in 2004, according to the school’s website. CalU has reached the 30 for the third time in school history and is 7-1 against nationally ranked teams this year.
CalU is averaging 73.6 points a game and surrendering 60.5 points a contest. The Vulcans shoot 41.4 percent from the floor and 30.3 percent from beyond the arc. They are only outrebounding their opponents by 0.9 boards a game(37.9-37.1), but are have a +8.9 turnover margin– CalU commits 13.9 turnovers a game and force 22.8 turnovers a game.
Emporia State is located in Emporia, Kansas. The Lady Hornets, out of the MIAA, is making their fourth Final Four appearance. Emporia State won the 2010 national championship and is 8-2 against ranked teams this year.
The Lady Hornets average 71.3 points and surrender 54.5 points a game, which ranks third in the nation. Emporia State is shooting 42.7 percent from the field, including 35.4 percent from beyond the arc. The Lady Hornets tops the nation in field goal defense, holding opponents to 33.0 percent from the floor, and blocked shots. They also have a + 10.1 rebounding margin (43.6-35.5).
How they got to the Final Four
California: Seniors Emma Mahady (24 points) and Kaitlynn Fratz (21 points), along with sophomore Miki Glenn (17 points), combined for 62 points on 22-of-43 shooting from the floor, and 17 rebounds in the quarterfinal victory. Mahady sealed the Vulcans win with a key steal and layup to close the scoring in overtime. Mahady, Fratz, and Glenn each played the entire 45 minutes.
The Vulcans have won eight straight and 16-of-17. CalU captured the PSAC tournament title and has also defeated Virginia State (86-75), West Liberty (69-64), and No. 15 Bloomsburg (72-69 OT) in the NCAA tournament. The Vulcans is now 26-11 in 13 tournament appearances, and 3-2 in Elite Eight games.
Emporia State: The Lady Hornets jumped out to an 11-0 lead and never trailed against West Texas A&M. Merrisa Quick led the way for the victors with 17 points, while Kathryn Flott produced 13 points and 12 rebounds. The Lady Hornets turned the ball over 25 times, but outrebounded West Texas A&M 46-28.
Emporia State has won 11 straight and 13-of-15. The Lady Hornets captured the MIAA the fourth consecutive season, and has also defeated Arkansas Tech (68-51), Pittsburgh State (65-54 OT), and Fort Hays State (66-61).
California: Glenn, Fratz, Mahady, and Irina Kulolj.
Glenn, who has scored in double figures in 31 of the 34 games this year, leads the Vulcans with 16.4 points and 3.9 assists a game. Fratz (14.4 ppg, 2.6 apg), Mahady (14.1ppg, 5.9 rpg), and Kukolj (10.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg) also average double figures. Kukolj had 14 points and eight rebounds against Nova Southeastern.
Emporia State: Quick, Flott, Kelly Moten
Quick, who was named an honorable mention All-American by the WBCA, was named the Most Outstanding Player at the Central Regional after averaging 13.3 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 4.3 blocks in the three games. She is averaging 11.8 points and 6.9 rebounds a game.
Moten leads the Lady Hornets with 14.8 points to go along with 5.8 rebounds a game. Moten had 16 points, nine assists, and five rebounds against West Texas A&M.
Coaches: Jess Strom (84-29, 4th season at CalU); Jory Collins (125-35, fifth season at Emporia State).
First meeting in history of teams.
Game time: 7 p.m.
Live streaming: NCAA.com and CBS Sports Network.
Live audio: KFFX 104.9FM (5:40 p.m.) Internet Audio: kvoe.com
About the teams.
Cal Baptist is located in Riverside. The Lancers, who are members of the PacWest, are making its first ever Final Four appearance. Cal Baptist moved to Division II last season after previously being a member of the NAIA.
The Lancers average 79.7 points, which ranks seventh in the nation, and surrender 66.6 points a game. Cal Baptist shot 44.0 percent from the field, including 35.0 percent from beyond the arc. The Lancers hold a + 6.9 rebound margin (47.3-40.4)but have turned the ball over 17.6 times a game.
Limestone is located in Gaffney, South Carolina. The Saints ran rough shot over all their opponents, claiming both the Conference Carolinas regular season and tournament crowns. This is Limestone’s first trip to the Final Four, though the Saints have reached the Sweet 16 the past three seasons.
Limestone averages 74.7 points and surrenders 55.0 points a game. The Saints shoot 42.8 percent from the floor, and outrebounds their opponents by 5.5 boards a game (41.4-35.9). Limestone forces 20.7 turnovers a game.
How they got to the Final Four
Cal Baptist: Junior center Darsha Burnside had a monster quarterfinal game, scoring 27 points to go along with 16 rebounds and five blocked shots against New Haven. The double-double is her 23rd of the year.
The Lancers received an at-large bid after losing to Hawaii-Pacific (74-73) in the PacWest tournament final. Cal Baptist is currently on a four-game winning streak after also defeating Hawaii Pacific (77-69), Point Loma (73-46), and Cal Poly Pomona (81-58) in the NCAA tournament.
Limestone rallied from an eight-point second half deficit to defeat Lewis. Senior point guard Morgan Brown scored all 12 of her points in the second half, including a pair of free throws with 24 seconds left to put Limestone up by three. Jasmine Kearse and Ayeshia McNeil also contributed 12 points apiece.
The Saints have won 33 consecutive games. Limestone has also defeated Catawba (76-62), Wingate (77-66) and Anderson (72-38).
Cal Baptist: Courtney Nelson, Cassidy Mihalko, Burnside, and Kamile Diaz
Nelson, who tallied 19 points against New Haven, leads Cal Baptist with 15.3 points a game. Nelson is second on the team with 5.3 rebounds. Mihalko is second on the team with 15.1 points a game, while Burnside is averaging a double-double, 14.2 points and 12.7 rebounds a game. Diaz is averaging 13.4 points and 4.6 assists a game.
Limestone: Kearse, Alicia Brookins, Celeste Warren, and McNeil
Kearse leads the Saints with 15.2 points and 3.3 three-pointers made a contest. Brookins is second on the team in scoring (13.9) and rebounding (6.7), while Warren leads the team in rebounding (7.2) and third on the squad in scoring (13.1). McNeil is averaging 10.4 points a game.
Coaches: Jarrod Olson (69-24, 3rd season at Cal Baptist); Cory Fox (205-139, 12th season at Limestone).
First meeting in history of teams.
Game time: 9:30 p.m.
Live streaming: NCAA.com and CBS Sports Network
[photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images]