Northland overcomes odds to win first DIII Women's Basketball crown
March 15, 2014
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ROCHESTER, Minn. – Earning their first DIII women’s basketball title, Northland (Minn.) beat two-time defending national champion Rock Valley (Ill.) 69-60 in Saturday at UCR Regional Sports Center.
Entering the tournament as the No. 7 seed, Northland is the lowest seeded team to win the championship since seeding of the tournament began in 2008. Rock Valley was previously the lowest seeded team to take home the title, claiming the championship as the No. 4 seed in 2012.
The Pioneers’ victory Saturday was anchored by a balanced offensive attack. Four Northland players finished the game with double-figures in scoring. Claiming Tournament MVP honors, sophomore center Sarah Durand led the Pioneers’ effort with a double-double, recording 14 points and 14 rebounds – including six offensive boards. Northland freshman guard Shammara Christian dished out a game-high seven assists and poked away three steals.
Kicking off their run to the title Thursday, the Pioneers pulled out a 58-57 upset of No. 2 seed Onondaga (N.Y.). In the semifinals, the Pioneers knocked off No. 3 seed and conference-rival Anoka-Ramsey (Minn.), 77-72.
With their only loss coming on Dec. 6, Northland capped off their national championship season with 22 consecutive victories and a final 27-1 record. Despite riding a 17-game win streak entering Saturday’s showdown, Rock Valley’s loss dropped their record to 28-6 for the 2013-14 season.