FRANKFURT, Ky. — There were only 13 combined free throws in the game, but the last one decided the outcome with two seconds left as John Brown of Arkansas upset Vanguard, 62-61, in the second round of the NAIA women's basketball tournament on Friday at the Frankfurt Civic Center.
Vanguard senior Taylor Belmont converted a three-point play with 1:13 left and sophomore Samantha Doucette hit a three-pointer to pull the Lions, ranked No. 1 all season, even with 29 seconds remaining.
But after John Brown's Sierra Shipley missed a three-point attempt, Doucette was called for a foul on Kami Garrison who collected the rebound. Garrison missed the first, but sank the second to sink the Lions (27-2).
Vanguard attempted just five free throws and senior Nicole Ballesteros, the Golden State Athletic Conference Player of the Year who had scored 91 points in her previous two games, did not go to the line and finished with nine points. Ballesteros, the leading candidate for National Player of the Year recognition, was four for 15 from the field, including one for four from three-point range.
Doucette led Vanguard with 20 points, sinking nine of 23 field-goal tries, and Belmont had seven points and nine assists.
Senior Leigha Bednar chipped in 15 points and seven rebounds and was seven for 11 from the field, but Vanguard was behind most of the game. The Lions' last lead was 38-35 with 16:52 left as they lost for only the second time in their 11 second-round games at the national tournament.
Shipley led four players in double figures for the winners with 14 points.
VU shot 39.4% from the field and was five for 16 from threedom, while John Brown (27-7) shot 44% from the field and 42.3% from beyond the arc (11 for 26).
Vanguard committed just four turnovers, to 14 for the winners, but the Lions lost the rebounding battle, 37-32.
It was the 13th straight trip to the NAIA Tournament for Coach Russ Davis' Lions, who have been to the event 16 times during Davis' 18-season tenure. The Lions, who won the Golden State Athletic Conference regular-season title, but lost in the semifinals of the conference tournament, were attempting to win the program's second national championship.
— From staff reports