OMAHA, Neb. – The Waldorf College women's basketball team came ready to battle in the postseason.
"I told them they had nothing to lose and they came out and played like it," Waldorf coach Katie Schutjer said.
College of St. Mary (24-6) prevailed with a 57-45 win over the Warriors (4-26) in Friday's Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference (MCAC) North Tournament semifinal.
It was a hard-fought victory for the Flames, who entered the night ranked No. 18 in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Division II poll.
Averaging 78.4 points a game, St. Mary is currently ranked 13th in the nation in scoring. The Flames found themselves searching for offense and fighting for every point.
"Defensively, we played the best we have played all year," Schutjer said. "We were disruptive on the defense end."
Schmit, a 5-foot-9 forward from Britt, went 60 percent from the field on 6-of-10 shooting while providing seven rebounds and three assists.
Deaundra Young led the Flames with a double-double, finishing with a game-high 19 points and 14 rebounds. Young, the MCAC Player of the Year, was St. Mary's only player to score in double figures.
The Flames received seven points apiece from Peyton Hagen, Tiffani Lewis and Tiffany Anzalone.
Sophomore Jenna Quina finished with two points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals for the Warriors. Senior Jennifer Nelsen contributed three assists. Robinson and Nelsen each grabbed three rebounds.
St. Mary led by 11 points in the opening half, but the Warriors fought back and trailed 26-21 at halftime.
The Flames extended their advantage to 20 points, taking a 48-28 lead with 8 minutes, 23 seconds remaining in the game. Waldorf pulled to within 11 points with 4:23 to play and would remain competitive down the stretch.
The Warriors shot 18-of-61 (30 percent) from the field and 2-of-11 (18 percent) from 3-point range. They finished 7-of-10 (70 percent) at the free-throw line.
St. Mary went 35 percent from the floor on 21-of-60 shooting. The Flames shot 3-of-18 (17 percent) from the perimeter and 12-of-22 (55 percent) at the foul line.
St. Mary came away with a 44-42 edge on the boards and narrowly outscored Waldorf in the paint by a 34-30 margin.
Waldorf committed 16 turnovers, which led to 17 points for the Flames. St. Mary turned the ball over 10 times and the Warriors scored 13 points off turnovers.
The loss ended the careers of Robinson and Nelsen, who have served as leaders for the team.
Friday marked the Flames' third win over Waldorf this season. St. Mary rolled to an 81-50 victory on Jan. 20 at Omaha and won 74-47 in the second meeting on Feb. 10 at Forest City.
The win was the eighth straight for the Flames, who advance to Saturday's MCAC North Tournament championship game against York College (11-17).
Following an 11-game losing streak to start the season, the Warriors began to put it together and proved to be a very competitive team down the stretch.
"Over the course of the season, the girls improved immensely," Schutjer said. "They really stepped up and did the best they could. The girls fought to win every game and as a coach, I couldn't ask for anything more than that."