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Providence women start fast, roll past No. 1 Marian (Ind.) for NAIA Fab Four berth

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Posted at 1:50 PM, Mar 23, 2024

SIOUX CITY, Iowa — An incredibly efficient performance Saturday lifted Providence into the Fab Four of the NAIA women's basketball tournament.

Maddy Dixon made a straightaway 3-pointer on Providence's first possession and the No. 2-seeded Argos were off to the races in a 78-68 victory over No. 1 overall seed Marian (Ind.) in the quarterfinal round of the national tourney at Tyson Event Center.

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The Providence women's basketball team celebrates after a 78-68 victory over Marian (Ind.) in the quarterfinal round of the NAIA women's basketball tournament on Saturay, March 23, 2024, in Sioux City, Iowa.

The Argos shot 60%, had 20 assists on 31 made field goals and hit 15 of 17 free throws. Ashlee Maldonado filled the stat sheet with 28 points (on 10-of-13 shooting), six rebounds and seven assists to lead Providence.

Keanna Salave'a had a double double with 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Dixon also scored 17 points for the Argos. Providence outrebounded the Knights 28-20.

The victory was the Argos' ninth in a row, and snapped Marian's 31 game winning streak that dated back to Nov. 10. It also marks Providence's first trip to the national semifinals.

Providence, which never trailed, jumped out to a 9-0 lead early in the first quarter, went ahead 20-8 following a three-point play by Dixon and closed the quarter leading 24-12.

A basket by Keanna Salave'a gave the Argos 31-16 advantage 6:18 into the second quarter. The lead reached 16 points at 42-26 later in the second on a basket in the paint by Dixon.

NAIA national player of the year Ella Collier led Marian with 30 points, making 12 of 13 field goals, though she didn't have much scoring help early. Collier had 12 of the Knights' first 14 points, but by then Marian was trailing by double digits.

Marian's Tamia Perryman finished with 18 points and teammate Abbey McNalley chipped in 12.

Providence improved its record to 26-8, a school-record for wins, while Marian ended its season with a 33-2 record.

The Argos will play Frontier Conference rival Carroll in the Fab Four on Monday at 5 p.m. Mountain time. The winner will advance to the national championship game Tuesday at 6 p.m. Mountain.