BILLINGS – The best season in Montana Western women’s program history came to an end Monday night with a 61-50 loss to No. 1 seed Freed-Hardeman in an NAIA national semifinal inside Rimrock Auto Arena.
The Lions took an early advantage, outscoring Western 19-6 in the first quarter. Sandrea Sylman scored 15 of her game-high 24 points in the first half.
But the Bulldogs came storming back in the second. Brianna King scored 16 points in the half, and Western chipped away at the lead thanks to 8-10 FT shooting to pull within 30-26 at the break.
A Sylman runner followed by a Danielle Nicholson three quickly pushed Freed-Hardeman’s lead back to nine early in the third quarter. Western never got closer than seven the rest of the quarter, as the Lions held them to just six in the quarter once again.
Four quick points to begin the fourth pulled the Bulldogs within 41-36 with 7:30 to play, but the Lions answered with seven straight after a timeout to in essence put the game away.
Kim Mallory added 12 points and seven rebounds for Freed-Hardeman, while Tiffany Pate pulled down 15 boards. King finished with 22 for Western, but on just 8-24 FG shooting. Cierra Lamey was the only other Bulldog in double figures with 10.
Turnovers hurt Western throughout the night. The Bulldogs committed 17 and forced just five.
Freed-Hardeman advances to Tuesday’s NAIA Women’s national championship game at 7:00 p.m.