Northwestern pulls away late to win NAIA opener

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SIOUX CITY (KTIV) — It wasn’t easy but fourth-ranked and top-seeded Northwestern defeated eighth-seeded Olivet Nazarene 93-80 in a first round match-up at the NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship.

The Red Raiders led by just one at the half, 43-42, and increased the lead to five after three quarters. Northwestern outscored the Tigers, 25-17, in the fourth quarter to pull away and improve to 27-4.

Kassidy De Jong and Anna Kiel led Northwestern with 18 points apiece. Sammy Blum had 15 points and Darbi Gustafson added 14.

“It’s one versus eight and people think you should win easily,” said Gustafson. “This is the national tournament. They’re here for a reason. We just had to dig into our principles and play our game and hope for the best.”

“We’ve been here before but it’s just fun to get into the grind,” said De Jong. “We all woke up this morning and finally it was game day. We were really pumped. I think it was good to finally start clicking together. I think we played an overall pretty good game.”

Northwestern will play at 7:00 p.m. Friday in round two at the Tyson Events Center.

Brad Pautsch

Brad Pautsch

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