SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Wayland Baptist broke out to a 37-8 lead but couldn’t hold on as the Flying Queens fell to Southern Oregon, 68-66, in a First Round game of the NAIA Women’s Basketball National Championship here Tuesday night.
Wayland (21-11), ranked the equivalent of 35th in the NAIA, led by 29 points midway through the second quarter. The Queens were ahead by 18 at the half and 11 going into the fourth quarter. WBU’s lead was nine, 64-55, with 5½ minutes remaining.
Southern Oregon (24-7), ranked the equivalent of 28th, went on to outscore Wayland 13-2 the rest of the way. That included three 3-pointers, the last by Brianna Phiakhamngon that tied it at 66 with just under a minute left.
On the other end, Wayland got the ball to its lone senior, Jenna Cooper-Jackson, whose baseline shot was blocked by Clara Robbins. After a timeout by the Falcons, Kami Walk banked in a jumper from the middle of the lane, giving Southern Oregon its first lead of the game with 2.4 seconds left.
Wayland, after calling timeout and getting the ball in the front court, hoped for another miracle ending, like it had thanks to a couple of buzzer-beaters this season. But leading scorer Kaitlyn Edgemon’s 15-foot shot from the right wing bounced across the rim as time ran out.
The game ended just after midnight in Plainview.
Southern Oregon advances to the Second Round to face sixth-ranked Westmont (Calif.), which moved on with an 84-62 win over Antelope Valley (Calif.). Westmont (24-3) is seeded second in its quadrant of the 64-team national tournament field while SOU is seeded seventh. Wayland was the No. 10 seed.
Wednesday’s winner moves on to the final site in Sioux City, Iowa, along with 15 other Second Round winners, to battle for the red banner at the Tyson Events Center March 13-18.
Tuesday’s first-ever meeting between the Flying Queens and Raiders (23-8) tipped off some 45 minutes late, around 10:15 Texas time. But Wayland was wide awake when the Flying Queens surged to a 25-6 lead at the end of the opening quarter, which ended with Ashlyn Shelley drilling a shot from just inside midcourt.
WBU made 10-of-15 field goals (67 percent), including three 3s by Shelley, in the first quarter when the Falcons were just 1-of-10 (1-of-7 3s).
The Queens scored the first seven points of the second quarter, capped with a 3-pointer by Edgemon, to assume a 32-6 lead. A 3 by Cooper-Jackson gave the Queens their largest lead, 29 points at 37-8, midway through the second period.
Wayland’s lead was 18 at the half, 45-27, after SOU’s Brianna Phiakhamngon hit a last-second 3.
The Queens hit 7-of-12 (58 percent) from distance in the first 20 minutes, but only 1-of-3 in the final 20.
Edgemon led all scorers with 23 points, followed by Cooper-Jackson with 13 and Shelley with nine, all on those first-quarter 3s. Cooper-Jackson added seven assists to her NAIA-leading total.
The Falcons got 21 points from Phiakhamngon and 18 from Walk. Clara Robbins and Kalei Iwami produced nine points apiece, with Robbins pulling down 10 rebounds.
Southern Oregon outscored Wayland at the free-throw line by nine, 13-of-15 compared to the Queens’ 4-of-7.
The Queens were looking to advance past the first round of the national tourney for the second straight season but were ousted in their opener for the sixth time in their last nine appearances.
Wayland was one of four Sooner Athletic Conference teams to drop their First Round games, joined by Mid-America Christian, Southwestern Christian and Science & Arts of Oklahoma. SAC winners were Texas Wesleyan and John Brown.