POMONA, Calif. — Montana State University Billings pushed Cal Poly Pomona to the edge in the championship game of the NCAA Division II West Regional women’s basketball tournament Monday night.
But in the end, the home team had a bit too much firepower.
Cal Poly Pomona, on the strength of a 16-4, five-minute run starting with 12:41 remaining in the second half, earned a hard-fought 75-68 victory over MSUB.
Cal Poly Pomona (25-6) will play in the Division II Elite Eight Tournament beginning March 25 in Erie, Pa. MSUB’s season ends with a 25-8 record.
The Yellowjackets trailed 25-15 midway through the first half, making only 1 of 5 attempts from beyond the 3-point arc. But MSUB found the range after that point, making 5 of 8 threes in the final 10 minutes of the half.
Things looked really good for the Yellowjackets when Bobbi Knudsen, who led MSUB with 18 points and earned all-tournament honors, hit a 3-pointer 47 seconds after intermission to give MSUB a 43-34 lead.
Also looking good for MSUB was the fact that Jada Blackwell, the West Region player of the year who scored 35 points in Pomona’s semifinal victory over Chico State, was limited to eight points in the first half.
“I was really ticked off after Knudsen hit that shot — we didn’t have the defensive energy,” said Cal Poly coach Danielle Bishop, who added that Knudsen was the top point guard In the West Region. “We were tired, they were tired, but we had to find a way to get some energy.”
Blackwell finished with 20 points, and drew special attention from MSUB with double-teams and different looks. Yellowjackets center Chelsea Banis did an outstanding job of containing Blackwell.
“She is so good, you can’t let her get comfortable,” MSUB coach Kevin Woodin said of Blackwell. “They have some other real good players and they made more shots than we did.”
Ariel Marsh added 19 points for the Broncos, and Lauren Goecke had six assists.
Kayleen Goggins had 16 points, but she was somewhat affected by foul trouble after getting her third foul late in the first half.
“I’m sad I won’t get to coach our three seniors again,” Woodin said. “We had three key players have season-ending injuries and we persevered. I don’t know if I will ever get a chance to coach such tough-minded people again.”