The No. 2 Wartburg women’s basketball team (31-0 overall) advanced to the Final Four round of the NCAA Tournament for the second time in two seasons. The Knights were able to hold off a late rally by East Texas Baptist and won, 65-61 in front of a crowd of 2,100.
Senior Morgan Neuendorf (Plainfield) led all scorers with 19 points. Classmates Katie Sommer (Cedar Rapids) and Miranda Murphy (Alleman) joined her in double digits wtih 14 and 13 points, respectively.
The Tigers took the 15-7 lead after the first quarter. The Orange and Black went on a 13-0 run over the first 6:06 of the second quarter to take a 20-15 lead. East Texas Baptist fought back to cut the lead to 27-25 at the halftime break.
Wartburg started the second half making seven of its first 11 shots from the field as part of a 17-0 run to extend the Knights’ lead to 44-25 with 4:52 remaining in the third quarter and led 52-36 heading to the final period.
East Texas Baptist outscored Wartburg 23-9 over the first eight minutes of the fourth quarter and cut the Wartburg lead to 61-59 with 2:00 remaining. A Kristie Sommer steal followed by two Neuendorf free throws extended the lead to 63-59 with 1:10 left. The Tigers were able to cut the deficit to three with 0:10 remaining but unable to complete the full comeback.
The Knights will face No. 5 Bowdoin in the national semifinals Friday in Rochester, Minn. Game time is to be announced.