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Local colleges


Cougars reach NAIA title game

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – Thanks to Cardinal Stritch’s relentless defense on inbounds plays, Paige Frisch and undefeated Saint Francis weren’t able to run their designed play in the game’s closing 30 seconds Monday night.

Still, the Cougars hung on for their narrowest victory in several weeks. Skylarr Shurn hit a pair of free throws with 6.3 seconds remaining for a team that advanced to the title game of the NAIA Division II Women’s National Basketball Championships with a 68-64 victory at the Tyson Events Center.

Kalah Baer scored 16 points for Saint Francis (37-0), which will make its first title game appearance since 1999 when action tips off at 8 tonight.

Frisch and Jennelle Wilson combined for eight 3-point field goals while each adding 15 points for coach Gary Andrews’ squad, bidding to be the first undefeated national champion since Morningside went 38-0 in 2009.

Frisch, who made each of her first four 3-point tries, would just as soon forget the game’s nine ticks. Cardinal Stritch (27-7), which rallied from a late first-half 10-point deficit, used its trademark airtight defense in the rally, pulling within 66-64 on Nateah Beimborn’s inside basket with 33 seconds left and forced Saint Francis’ 14th turnover of the game with a chance to go for the tie.

Looking for a steal, Frisch and the Wolves’ Mika Passini tangled near halfcourt. Fouled on the play with 8.8 seconds left, Passini missed the free throw, Shurn (12 points, 7 assists, 2 blocked shots) grabbed the defensive board and later made the game-clinching free throws for the Crossroads League champions.

“I don’t know what I was thinking because she wasn’t their best player or their best free throw shooter,” said Frisch said. “She was timid, so I was going for the steal. Oh, gosh, I would have felt terrible (if Passini made the free throws).