Montana Western Punches Ticket to Fab Four in NAIA Tourney - | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Montana Western Punches Ticket to Fab Four in NAIA Tourney

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(Courtesy Montana Western Athletics)

Billings, Mont. – History was made as Brianna King led four-seed Montana Western past upstart six-seed Menlo (Calif.) 74-61 in the quarterfinals of the 2018 NAIA Division I Women's Basketball Championship presented by Wells Fargo. With the win, the Bulldogs advance to their first ever semifinals.

King was nearly unstoppable as she scored a tournament high 40 points, breaking several records in the process of guiding the Bulldogs into the semifinals. The 40 points are a school record, she also set school and tournament marks in made free-throws, going a perfect 18-18 from the line.

King wasn't the only one scoring for the Bulldogs. Britt Cooper recorded her tenth double-double of the season with a 15 point 10 rebound performance and Savanna Bignell added 12 points, 4 assists, and 3 steals off the bench. 

The Oaks came into the contest boasting the third best offensive shooting percentage in the tournament but struggled early on, and the defense was out of sync as well. King took advantage, attacking the basket and slicing through defenders en route to scoring 16 points in the opening frame.

The Oaks, trailing by 13 at the intermission, finally got the offense clicking in the second half. They connected on three of their next four 3-point field goals cutting the lead to four.  However, the Bulldogs answered with an 11-4 run including four straight points by Alexa Welch would stop any hope of Menlo catching the Bulldogs.

Menlo's Celina Pagan carried the bulk of the Oak offense scoring 19 points and Aliyah Brantley added 12. But that was all the production the Oaks could muster. They shot just 35 percent from the floor and 28 percent from beyond the arc.

"We made some defensive adjustments in the second half." Stated Montana Western head coach Lindsay Woolley, "Mixing and matching our zone bothered them. Not too many teams had zoned them this year so we tried it and got results."

Montana Western advances to the semi-finals to face one-seed Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.)  on Monday at 6 p.m.