(HOLLAND, Mich.) – The No. 3-ranked Thomas More College women's basketball team is returning to its second NCAA Division III National Semifinals "Final Four" in three seasons as it defeated No. 4-ranked Hope College, 72-57, tonight (Saturday, March 10, 2018) in a sectional final "Elite Eight" game in front of a capacity crowd at the DeVos Fieldhouse in Holland, Michigan.
With the win, the Saints improves to 30-1 advances to play No. 1-ranked Amherst College on Friday (March 16) at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, Minnesota. Game time and ticket information will be announced by the NCAA on Sunday or Monday. With the loss, the Flying Dutch end the season at 29-2.
In the first half, the game was back-and-forth the entire way. Hope took a 2-0 lead from a bucket by Hope junior Francesa Buchanan 30 seconds into the game. The Saints then went on a 19-11 run capped by junior Madison Temple (Cincinnati, Ohio/Anderson) with a buzzer beater to end the first-quarter, giving the Saints the lead 19-13 heading into the second-quarter. Starting the second-quarter, Hope went on a 10-3 run coming within one of Thomas More. Temple put the Hope run to a halt sparking a Saints 7-5 run to make the score 30-27 with 2:31 left in the half. Hope nailed a three-pointer to end the half, going into half-time with a tie game, 30-30.
Coming out of half-time, the Saints went on an 8-2 run sparked by two three-point jumpers from Taylor Jolly (Alexandria, Ky. / Campbell County) and Abby Owings (Independence, Ky. / Simon Kenton). Brianna McNutt (Maysville, Ky. / Mason County) came up with a steal finished with a Temple fast-break layup to give the Saints another spark before the fourth quarter. Starting out the fourth-quarter, Hope got within two points helped by a free-throw from a Jacquelyn Schwark jumper, but that was the closest the Flying Dutch would get to the Saints for the remainder of the game. The Saints went on a 13-5 run which was started by two Temple free-throws, an Owings fast-break layup, an Emily Schultz (Melbourne, Ky. / Bishop Brossart) made lay-up and an Owings three-pointer. The Saints led 56-48 with a little over 5-minutes left in the game. With four minutes left in the game, Jolly connected for a fast-break layup pushing the Saints up by 10. Temple scored the last five points for the Saints with less than two minutes in the game, nailing a three-pointer with 1:10 left and connecting on two free-throws.
Temple ended the game with the game-high 25 points, going 8-8 from the foul line, along with four rebounds, three steals, and three assists. Owings finished with the second most points in the game with 18, going 4-7 from the three-point range, along with two rebounds, three steals, and three assists. Jolly ended up with 13 points, going 3-5 from the three-point range and 2-2 from the foul line, along with four assists and one rebound.