By Shane Lydon, Sports Editor
Photos courtesy of aqsaints.com
The Aquinas women’s basketball team’s season came to a conclusion after a narrow 54-46 defeat to Hastings in the first round of the NAIA National Tournament in Sioux City on March 7th.
In a rematch of their battle in Nebraska back in November where Hastings came out on top, it was a much tenser affair with so much more on the line for both teams. It was tight throughout with Hastings getting the better of the first period to jump into a 14-10 lead.
AQ went toe to toe with their opponents in the second period before Hastings extended their lead to 41-31 at the end of the third period. Despite outscoring Hastings 15-13 in the 4th period, it wasn’t enough to continue an exceptional campaign.
Back in early February, the Saints were exceeding expectations as they headed into their final six games of the regular season. Aquinas produced one stunning display after another to win five of those final six games with the only defeat coming against University of Michigan-Dearborn, where they were one basket away from victory.
These results were more than enough to see AQ into the WHAC tournament where they took on Concordia in the quarter finals. Michaela Faber, Hannah Brefeld and Carley Andrews all hit over 10 points to seal a tense 54-48 victory and send them into the semi finals for a showdown with Rochester College.
In a match that saw the pendulum sway from side to side throughout, the final sway went Aquinas’ way as they produced a sensational 4th period performance to progress to the WHAC final, 54-49. The Saints outscored their opponents 23-15 in the 4th to send the home crowd into raptures.
The final was delicately poised with both Aquinas and Indiana Tech winning one of the two games played during regular play. Home advantage made the difference on the day however as Indiana Tech pulled away to seal the title with a 57-41 victory.
As disappointing as the result may have been for the team, Aquinas still secured their berth at the National Tournament for the first time since the 2009/2010 season . Given time to reflect, it has been an incredible successful season for the Saints.
” Looking over this past season, it definitely has been a rollercoaster. We went through so many ups and downs and emotions throughout the months,” said sophomore Ally Frederickson.
” With all of that, our team definitely drew closer and relied on each other to weather through it. It is an amazing feeling to make it to nationals. I think that tightness of our team is exactly what got us there and what made us enjoy that part of the season so much,” she added.
” I wouldn’t have picked any other girls to go through the past year with. We became a family. It is only fitting that we get the accomplishment of a national ranking to go with this tough team.”
With the season coming to an end, the pressure is on the likes of Frederickson and others to ensure the team can continue to progress despite the loss of Bri Spica, Hannah Brefeld and Michaela Faber to graduation.
” Next season presents a huge opportunity for us. We have put our name out there this past season, now it is time to show everyone who Aquinas women’s basketball really is, said Frederickson.
” We have a lot of talented and motivated players this year and still hold that core tight closeness. I expect great things for the future of the team,” she added.