The second-seeded Southwestern University Pirates found themselves trailing third-seeded Austin College at halftime, but a big second half highlighted by a late 16-0 run gave them a 72-57 victory in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Women's Basketball semifinals on Saturday afternoon in Hughey Gym.
In what would become a theme throughout the game, the Pirates used a swarming full court press to hound Austin College into nine turnovers in the first eight minutes as they raced out to a 14-4 lead early on, but the hot shooting of Erin Riley and Christina Kime brought the Kangaroos back and put them ahead 15-14 with seven minutes left in the opening half.
Chelsea Leeder knocked down a pair of threes as Southwestern took a 31-29 lead with just over a minute left before the break, but a Brianna Harvey layup and a three from Riley just before the buzzer sent Austin College into the half leading 34-31. Austin College hit 57.9% from the field in the first half, including hitting 4-of-6 from deep.
Leeder took control early in the second half, drilling three triples and scoring 11 points in the first five minutes out of the locker room to give the Pirates a 46-37 lead, and the margin grew to 50-37 with 13:22 remaining. Austin College battled back with a 10-0 run that included threes from Kime and Shayna Clardy, but after a pair of Brittany Stepanski free throws made it 50-47 it was once again Leeder who took over for the Pirates, scoring eight of her team's next 10 points to spark the big 16-0 run that put the game away.
Leeder knocked down 10-of-15 field goals and 6-of-8 threes and finished with 29 points to lead all scorers. She also had six rebounds, five assists, and three steals. Jordan Owens was the only other Pirate to reach double-digits, scoring 10 points and pulling down seven boards.
Kime led the 'Roos with 19 points and hit 4-of-7 threes and added five assists and Riley finished the game with 15 points and six rebounds. After the hot shooting by the 'Roos in the first half, Austin College hit just 26.9% from the field. Southwestern also forced Austin College into 27 turnovers in the game.
The Pirates advance to tomorrow's SCAC Championship game, where they will face off against the top seeded Trinity University Tigers. Trinity and Southwestern have met three times this season, with the Tigers winning by 12 in each of the three meetings.