BILLINGS – The four-seed Montana Western Bulldogs outscored five-seed Dillard (La.) 21-6 in the third quarter on their way to a 66-54 win in the final opening round game of the Duer bracket in the 2018 NAIA Division one Women’s Basketball National Championship presented by Wells Fargo.
Dillard held the lead after the game’s first 20 minutes, though it was only by 1 point. That was quickly erased by Western who scored 8 straight points to start the third quarter. With the Bulldog’s offense not turning it over, a problem earlier in the game, and making shots, the Bleu Devil’s struggled to score on the other.
By the time the buzzer sounded to end the quarter, Western had outscored Dillard 21-6 in the 10-minute stretch and held a double-digit lead for the rest of the game.
Just like at the start of the second half, Western started the game on fire. The Bulldogs went on a 12-4 run in the first in the first three minutes of play. After that, the team cooled off and got sloppy with the ball, allowing Dillard to climb back in it.
The Blue Devils’ defense forced 15 turnovers with 11 steals in the first half, which allowed their defense to get out in transition and avoid UMW’s suffocating half-court defense. Dillard scored 14 points off turnovers in the first half and late in the third quarter took the team’s first lead and carried it into the half.
What doomed Dillard was Western keeping a clean sheet in the second half, forcing DU to try and score against a set defense. That didn’t happen very often, as the Bleu Devils shot just 26.9 percent in the game.
Western was led by point guard Brianna King, who led all scorers with 18 points on 7-12 shooting. She was balanced in the paint by forward Britt Cooper who finished with a double-double of 12 points and 13 boards.
Dillard’s two starting post players, Alexia McDonald and Asia Partlow where the team’s most effective scorers, combining for 23 points and 14 rebounds.
The Bulldogs advance beyond the first round for the second straight year. In 2017, they lost to eventual National Champion, Oklahoma City University on a buzzer beater in the second round. This time they will face another one-seed, Campbellsville (Ky.) on Friday, March 16 at 10:15 a.m.