INDEPENDENCE, Mo. – Cinderella attempted to try on another slipper for size in the form of seventh-seeded Southern-New Orleans, but Montana State-Northern had other ideas with a 73-54 win.
The Skylights where guided into the quarterfinals of the 2015 NAIA National Championship behind a monster 35-point and 28-rebound performance from senior post A’Jha Edwards.
The 35 points was a season-high for Edwards, while her 28 boards set a new Division I Women’s Basketball Championship record – breaking Fort Hays State’s (Kan.) Annette Wiles’ record of 24 against Claflin (S.C.) that stood since 1991.
The 28 rebounds was also the most recorded by any player thus far in the 2014-15 season.
Edwards was simply unstoppable from the opening tip. The Sierra Vista, Ariz., native was fed the rock early-and-often, making her presence in the lane undeniable to notice. By the end of the first half – with Montana State-Northern only ahead 39-33 – Edwards had netted 16 points and 15 boards. She was joined by fellow Skylight Natalee Faupel with 13 first-half points.
In the first 20 minutes of action, Southern-New Orleans had 12 rebounds as a team. For the game, the Lady nights pulled down 27 rebounds – one short of Edwards by herself.
Montana State-Northern (29-5) was able to create separation by shooting 60 percent (15-for-25) in the first segment of play, while holding the Lady Knights to 13-of-35 from the floor (37.1 percent).
Offensively, the twosome of Kishaun Williams (15) and Brandy Broome (10) helped the Lady Knights keep up with the dominant inside game of their opponent.
The second half was the same song, second verse for both schools. The Gulf Coast Athletic Conference tournament champion had no answer for Edwards, and Montana State-Northern knew it.
Edwards added 19 points and 13 rebounds in the second frame, just having her way with any on-comers headed her way. She played 38:34 and was 16-of-22 (72.7 percent) from the floor and accounted for 47.9 percent of her squad’s offensive production.
In two games so far in the championship, the team-leader is averaging 30 points per game and 22 boards. The championship record for rebounds in the tournament is 79 by Wiles, also in 1991.
Faupel had a quiet 16 points after a 13-point opening half.
For the Lady Knights, Williams and Broome had team-highs with 24 and 16 points, respectively.