BR-8 Limestone vs. BR-38 Cal Baptist
We nailed half of our Final Four predictions. This is not that half.
As I wrote on Sunday, we didn’t see Cal Baptist making it out of the first round, let alone to the Final Four. We had the Lancers ranked BR-58 coming into the tournament. Thirty nine tournament teams had better HeroSportss when the first round began back on Friday, March 13, but 36 of those teams are done.
The Lancers’ Elite Eight victory was the third in program history. Not their third Elite Eight win — their third NCAA Tournament win, period. Not too bad for a team making their first ever NCAA Tournament appearance.
It would be pretty incredible to see this squad go all the way, seeing as a win in the National Title game would mark their first six-game winning streak of the season, but hey, stranger things have happened.
They’re led by Darsha Burnside, the 6-foot-2 junior who won the West Region Tournament MVP after she averaged nine points, 13.6 boards, 4.3 blocks, and just two fouls per game in the Lancers’ first three playoff games.
They’re hardly a one-woman show though — Burnside is one of four Lancers who averaged at least 13 points per game on the season. Cassidy Mihalko has started every game for the Lancers this year and leads the team in scoring at 15.2 points per game. Courtney Nelson is right on her tail scoring-wise, having scored just one point fewer than Mihalko this year (501 vs 500). Point guard Kamille Diaz is something of a three-point specialist, averaging 13.5 points per game and hitting 39.5 percent of her looks from deep this year. She also leads the team in assists at 4.6 per game.
The Lancers are a deep squad (eight players average 18+ minutes per game), and have proven throughout this tournament the stage is not too big for them.
Their opponent this Wednesday, BR-8 Limestone, was a little bit less of a surprise. We had the Saints losing to BR-3 Lewis in the Elite Eight, and for much of the game it looked like we would be correct in that prediction. They trailed nearly the entire game until an eight-point comeback in the final quarter sent them to the Final Four with a 61-58 win. Morgan Brown, Jasmine Kearse, and Ayshia McNeil scored a dozen points each, and Alicia Brookins and Celestra Warren finished with double digits as well.
They limited Lewis’ star duo of Mariyah Brawner-Henley and Jamie Johnson to just eight points apiece. It was the second time Brawner-Henley scored in single digits this season, and just the fifth time from Johnson. All in a day’s work for the number four scoring defense in D2 Women’s Basketball. The Saints allowed an average of just 54.9 points per game this year, just behind fellow Final Four squad Emporia State at number three (54.7).
Limestone made it to the Elite Eight last year before falling to West Texas A&M. They’re already a step beyond that, but won’t be satisfied with just that.
Their 33-game winning streak is more than five times longer than any streak the Lancers have put together this year, but it’s definitely time to throw the records out the window. We like the Saints to extend their streak to 34, but we didn’t expect either team to make it here. So maybe take that with a grain of salt. These upset-minded teams only need two more wins to upset the division and take home a title.