Cardinals advance to CCIW Championship for first time in school history

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Headline: Cardinals advance to CCIW Championship for first time in school history

Wheaton, Ill. (Feb. 27 2015) – The North Central College women’s basketball team faced off against Elmhurst College at Wheaton College’s King Arena for the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW) Tournament opener.

The Cardinals will proceed to the tournament championship against the winner of the contest between Carthage and Wheaton on Friday night. The Cardinals advanced with an emotional 89-87 win over the Blue Jays in the last minute of play.

Elmhurst jumped on North Central early to earn a double-digit lead and headed well into the first half leading by as many as 11 with just under a minute left before the intermission. The Cardinals started off the match-up shooting an uncharacteristic 21 percent in the first half.

After a pair of free-throws by Maryssa Cladis along with a three-pointer drained by Kim Wilson, the Cardinals were able to cut the Blue Jay’s lead to just six points as the score sat at 45-39 at halftime.

Miranda Grizaffi started off the second half with a three-pointer just 15 seconds in to cut the lead to three points and the contest would continue to go back and forth from there. The two teams would go on to tie the game 13 times until the final buzzer.

With 13:56 left to go in the contest, Mayson Whipple gave the Cardinals their first lead with a layup to make the score 57-55. From here, the girls kept the crowd and their opponents on the edge of their seats as each team would lose and regain the lead.

These efforts to punch their ticket to the CCIW Championship was well deserved by both teams and seemed like it could be anyone’s ball game until the final minutes ticked off of the clock. With only 50 seconds left in regulation, Elmhurst would tie up the score at 87-87 with a layup by Mikaela Eppard who finished with a game high of 26 points.

In the final minute, Elmhurst had possession as former Blue Jay and current Cardinal Tess Godhardt stole the ball from Elmhurst guard Katie Swanson and came storming down the court for a layup, but was fouled hard on the attempt.

Godhardt went to the line with 25 seconds left on the clock and sunk one of her two free throws to give the Cardinals an 88-87 lead. Elmhurst would proceed to hold the ball for the last shot until Bobbi Johns came in to seal the game with a steal.

For one last opportunity at another basket, the Blue Jays fouled Johns as she would sink one of her two free throws with just two seconds remaining in regulation. Elmhurst heaved a half-court shot that would fall short and the Cardinals advance to the CCIW Tournament finale.

Corrine Rowe and Mayson Whipple both finished with the team high of 12 points as Johns and Cladis would also finish in double-digits with 11.

The Cardinals will face off against the Wheaton Thunder on Saturday night at 7 p.m. at King Arena. North Central will be hoping to improve their 0-2 record against the Thunder to advance to the NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Tournament. This is the first CCIW Tournament win in North Central Women’s Basketball history.

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Jarred DeHerrera is an editor for the Chronicle/NCClinked.

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