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Thomas More 77 Dordt 65


SIOUX CITY, Iowa – [BOX SCORE] The NAIA Women’s Basketball Championship came to a conclusion with Thomas More (Ky.) winning the battle for the red banner after defeating Dordt (Iowa) by a score of 77-65 on Tuesday night in the Tyson Events Center.

It all started with Thomas More (Ky.) at No. 2 and Dordt (Iowa) receiving votes in the preseason Coaches Top 25 Poll.

As the season proceeded, Thomas More remained in the top five for the entire season while Dordt bounced around, in and out of the poll before landing at No. 21 in the final regular-season poll.

The two teams did not meet each other in the regular season. The only common opponents the teams shared through the regular season were Concordia (Neb.) and Doane (Neb.) where both Dordt and TMU captured the win.

On qualification day, the Saints were seeded as a 1-seed in the Duer quadrant and the Defenders a 5-seed in the Cramer quadrant.

The upset story for Dordt started with a win over Sterling (Kan.) in the team’s second opening round game. From there, they would continue to upset the No. 1 and 2 seed in the Cramer quadrant. The Defenders did not stop there as they continued the upset train with a win over the overall No. 1 seed, Southeastern (Fla.), to advance to the championship game.

Thomas More made its way through the Duer quadrant claiming win after win showing just why they were a 1-seed. The only close call came again Rocky Mountain (Mont.) where the Saints won by a two-point margin.

It all came down to Tuesday night in the Tyson Events center with an on-looking crowd of about 3,000 people where Thomas More and Dordt would face each other for the first time.

The Saints controlled the pace of the game from the jump and Alex Smith’s made free throws were the start of an 11-0 scoring run that the Saints used to close out the first quarter.

Thomas More’s potent defense held the Defenders under double digits until the 6:06 mark in the second quarter.

TMU carried its momentum into the locker room as the team held a 25 point lead at the half.

The Saints extended their lead with a 10-4 run sparked by Courtney Hurst to start the second half.

Dordt made one final push in the fourth quarter and outscored Thomas More 35-18 in the final frame to cut the Saints lead down to 10 with under a minute remaining. But it wasn’t enough to close the gap as Thomas More fought their way to the team’s first national title.

After making their second straight appearance in the NAIA Women’s Basketball Championship game, the Saints got the opportunity to cut down the nets and take home the red banner for the first time in program history under head coach Jeff Hans in his 11th season leading the Saints women’s basketball program.

Karly Gustafson of Dordt led all scorers with 23 points on the night.

All 10 Saints that were on the court contributed to the scoring offense while three of them were in double-digits. The team was led by Alexah Chrisman with 16 points.

TMU also recorded an impressive five blocks as a team to help keep the Defenders at bay.

All-Tournament Team

Ashtyn Veerbeek, Dordt (Iowa)

Karly Gustafson, Dordt (Iowa)

Alexah Chrisman, Thomas More (Ky.)

Angela Perry, Southeastern (Fla.)

Taylor Clos, Thomas More (Ky.)

Abby Downard, Marian (Ind.)

Stephanie Soares, The Master’s (Calif.)

Sierra Mitchell, Morningside (Iowa)

N’Dea Flye, Rocky Mountain (Mont.)

Arleighshya McElroy, Central Methodist (Mo.)

Most Valuable Player: Alexah Chrisman, Thomas More (Ky.)

Hustle Award: Karly Gustafson, Dordt (Iowa)