FOREST CITY – A never-give-up attitude lifted the Waldorf College women's basketball team to a 70-68 victory over Central Baptist College in Friday's Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference (MCAC) contest.
The Warriors (4-22, 2-9) erased a 10-point deficit in the second half to top the Lady Mustangs (10-13, 2-9) for the second time this season.
"We fought hard all game and it paid off," Waldorf coach Katie Schutjer said.
Mackenzie Gott dropped in a team-high 18 points and pulled down seven rebounds for the Warriors. The 5-foot-11 junior forward from Oskaloosa shot 6-of-13 (46 percent) from the floor.
Kellie Schmit recorded her 10th double-double of the season, powering Waldorf with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Schmit, a 5-foot-9 sophomore forward from Britt, went 67 percent from the floor on 4-of-6 shooting. She came away with two steals and worked hard to earn trips to the free-throw line where she finished 9-of-10 (90 percent) on the night.
"It showed how hard she worked," Schutjer said.
Connor Thompson poured in 14 points while providing four rebounds, three assists and two steals for the Warriors. The sophomore guard from Forest City shot a scorching 71 percent, going 5-of-7 from the field and 4-of-6 (67 percent) from 3-point range.
Waldorf senior Brittany Robinson added nine points and four boards. She shot 43 percent from behind the arc, finishing 3-of-7 on the night.
McKenzie Morris led Central Baptist with 14 points and Audrey Moran scored 13 points. Rachael Medina chipped in 12 points and Rachael Etherington had 10 points for the Lady Mustangs.
Central Baptist led by as many as five points in the first half and owned a 41-39 advantage at halftime. The Lady Mustangs stretched their lead to 10 points in the second half.
Trailing 58-48, Waldorf outscored Central Baptist 22-10 in the final 11 minutes of the game.
A free-throw from Gott put the Warriors in front, 68-67 with 1:29 remaining. The Lady Mustangs tied the game on the ensuing possession following a free throw from Aaliyah Block.
Schmit showed her composure at the foul line down the stretch. She knocked down a pair of free throws with 11 seconds to play and Waldorf didn't allow Central Baptist to attempt a shot in the closing seconds.
"A lot of things in the game went wrong, but two things went right when they needed to," Schutjer said. "Kellie hit clutch free throws and our defensive execution in the last seven seconds was perfect."
The Warriors received four points and a team-high seven assists from senior Jennifer Nelsen. Sophomores Kristen Hewett and Mikaela Vega scored three points apiece. Freshman Jessica Denholm contributed two points.
Hewett collected four rebounds and Vega handed out two assists.
Waldorf shot a season-high 46 percent, going 22-of-48 from the field. The Warriors also turned in their strongest performance from downtown, catching fire with a 9-of-21 (43-percent) showing. They also cashed in at the charity stripe, converting on 77 percent of their attempts behind a 17-of-22 effort.
"We shot well from 3-point range," Schutjer said. "We shot free throws well too."
The Lady Mustangs went 27-of-61 (44 percent) from the floor and 5-of-9 (56 percent) behind the arc. They finished 9-of-13 (69 percent) at the foul line.
Central Baptist outscored Waldorf in the paint by a 32-26 margin. The Lady Mustangs also owned a 33-30 advantage on the boards.
Despite being out-rebounded 9-4 on the offensive glass, the Warriors scored eight second-chance points. Central Baptist finished with five second-chance points.
Waldorf's bench outscored the Lady Mustangs' reserves, 25-14.
The Warriors committed 20 turnovers and Central Baptist turned the ball over 16 times. Turnovers generated 20 points for the Lady Mustangs while Waldorf scored 11 points off turnovers.
With the win, the Warriors completed the season sweep of Central Baptist. They topped the Lady Mustangs 62-56 on Jan. 23 at Conway, Ark.
Waldorf hosts College of the Ozarks (18-7, 9-2) in the final home game of the season on Saturday, starting at 3 p.m.
Ozarks, ranked No. 18 in the latest National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Division II poll, defeated the Warriors 91-56 on Jan. 24 at Point Lookout, Mo. The Lady Bobcats were national tournament runners-up last season and are currently tied with No. 11 Oklahoma Wesleyan University (23-4, 9-2) for first place in the MCAC standings.
Waldorf looks to build momentum from Friday's win as the Warriors prepare to take on Ozarks.
"It will be a very tough game," Schutjer said. "Ozarks is a very good, fundamental team – offensively and defensively. Hopefully, our win will boost our confidence and spill over into [Saturday]."