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Streak comes to an end for Jimmie women

Jamestown's Jenna Doyle (21) fights to the basket on Feb. 4 at Harold Newman Arena against Dakota Wesleyan. John M. Steiner / The Sun

University of Jamestown's streak of seven consecutive appearances at the NAIA Division II women's basketball national tournament formally came to an end Wednesday, Feb. 13, in Orange City Iowa.

Second-ranked Northwestern defeated Jamestown 88-58, eliminating the Jimmies from Great Plains Athletic Conference tournament contention. In its first season in the GPAC, Jamestown will finish outside the top eight teams advancing to the conference tournament with one game to play.

Jamestown (13-16, 7-14 GPAC) will finish the season hosting No. 14 Morningside at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Harold Newman Arena.

"Regardless of what our postseason scenario is, Saturday is senior night for us and we have a group of four seniors who have contributed extraordinary things to our program," said Jimmie women's basketball coach Thad Sankey. "It's a chance to finish our season strong and also really honor what it means to be a four-year college basketball player."

Even with a win over Morningside, the Jimmies can't finish ahead of Mount Marty College (15-13, 8-13) for the eighth and final seed in the upcoming GPAC tourney, as the Lancers would beat UJ by a fourth tiebreaker.

Jamestown and Mount Marty split its pair of conference games this season, and the two teams would both have identical marks against teams ranked higher in the conference (if UJ wins Saturday) and identical conference road records (4-7). But the Lancers would break the tie with four victories against ranked NAIA opponents at the time of those contests being played, while Jamestown has just one victory over a ranked team.

Mount Marty finishes the regular season Saturday hosting No. 1 Concordia, which means Briar Cliff (14-15, 8-13) will most likely earn the conference tournament's eighth seed. Briar Cliff wraps up hosting College of Saint Mary (2-26 overall) on Saturday, and a win, coupled with a Mount Marty loss, would vault the Chargers into the postseason.

"Even though this isn't the outcome that we had hoped for, we still have strong expectations to finish out this season," said Jimmie senior forward Marina Nowak. "It's not over yet and I want us to go out and compete like I know we can."

Jamestown started strong Wednesday against the Red Raiders, staking an 18-17 lead after the opening period. Nowak, who has been playing through a serious knee injury and coming off the bench in spurts over the second half of the season, scored four points and Allison Jablonsky went 2-for-2 from 3-point range to highlight the Jimmie advantage.

But Northwestern began to run away in the second, first using an 11-2 run to push a Red Raider lead to double digits for the first time at 36-25 with 2 minutes to play before the half. Sammy Blum capped the run with a 3, and Taylor VanderVelde connected from long range later in the frame to cushion a 43-28 Northwestern advantage heading into period No. 3.

Nowak didn't miss shot, going 2 of 2 from the field and 4 of 4 at the free-throw line, finishing with eight points. Nowak injured her knee on Nov. 24 but returned wearing a brace after Christmas.

"It's sore, but once I get into the game and the adrenaline kicks in I can't feel it anymore," Nowak said.

The Jimmies were eventually outrebounded 42-25, and were also whistled for 28 fouls, which would be taken advantage of by Northwestern. The Red Raiders converted 21 of 27 shots at the foul line.

"I like how we guarded when we got them to set their half-court stuff," said Sankey in an interview with AM 1400 ESPN Jamestown. "In transition and semi-transition we didn't do a good job. They created advantages and scored, but when we got set in the half court we got stops."

Senior Jory Mullen scored a team-high 9 points off the bench for UJ. The Red Raiders were paced by 19 points tossed in by Darbi Gustafson and a Kassidy De Jong double-double (13 points, 11 rebounds).

Those who will also be playing their final game for the Jimmies this Saturday at Newman Arena will be Jenna Doyle, UJ's all-time career blocks leader, and wing Lissy McCulloch.

(2) Northwestern 88, Jamestown 58

UJ 18 10 13 17 -- 58

NW 17 26 24 21 -- 88

UJ—Jory Mullen 9, Marina Nowak 8, Grace Benz 8, Jenna Doyle 6, Allison Jablonsky 6, Mackensi Higlin 5, Olivia Anderson 4, Paige Schmidt 3, Emma Stoehr 3, Mya Buffetta 3, Noelle Josephson 2, Kayla Feldhake 1. Totals: 20-55 FG, 9-23 3-pointers (Benz 2, Jablonsky 2, Mullen, Schmidt, Higlin, Stoehr, Buffetta), 9-10 FT, 25 Rebounds (Higlin 3), 5 Assists (Stoehr 2), 28 Fouls (Lissy McCulloch), 25 Turnovers, 1 Block, 6 Steals.

NW—Darbi Gustafson 19, Kassidy De Jong 13, Anna Kiel 12, Haley Birks 9, Sammy Blum 9, Taylor VanderVelde 9, Reana Schuiteman 9, Jada Cunningham 8. Totals: 31-58 FG, 5-14 3-pointers (Blum 3, Schuiteman, VanderVelde), 21-27 FT, 42 Rebounds (De Jong 11), 16 Assists (Kiel 5), 18 Fouls, 21 Turnovers, 1 Block, 10 Steals.

Records: Northwestern 24-3, 18-3 GPAC. Jamestown 13-16, 7-14.

Michael Savaloja

Hometown: Churchs Ferry, N.D.; College: North Dakota

A recipient of the NDHSCA Award of Merit, Savaloja has been reporting sports for The Sun since 2008.

Follow on Twitter: @MichaelSavaloja

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