Justin Chapman | Echo
The famine is over, and now, it is time to eat.
For the first time since 2010, the women's basketball team is in the NAIA National Tournament. They are not wasting their opportunity thus far.
On Wednesday, No. 15 Taylor defeated No. 18 Northwest Christian 61-54. This is the first win for the Trojans in the National Tournament since 2007. The Trojans are now headed to the Sweet Sixteen.
"This trip to Iowa has felt like a dream come true," said sophomore guard Jamie Netzley. "All season long our goal has been to make it to Nationals and now we are here, so now we are focusing on being in the moment and making long-lasting memories."
The upperclassmen led the Trojans in this game, with a balanced attack from senior guard Josie Cobb, senior forward Cassidy Wyse and junior forward Kendall Bradbury.
Bradbury put up 15 points and eight rebounds, Cobb added 13 points and eight boards, and Wyse brought 13 points and nine boards. Cobb, Wyse and Bradbury totaled up 41 of the Trojans, 61 points.
"Each game we want to bring intensity, heart, and competitiveness," said sophomore forward Haley Stratman. "Executing the game plan our coaches put together is a major key, especially in this tournament."
Northwest Christian started the game fast and scored 10 unanswered points. Taylor called a timeout as a result to gather themselves. Freshman guard Lauren James stepped up and knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Trojans their first bucket of the game.
Still, things looked bleak for Taylor. At the 2:53 mark in the second quarter, the Trojans found themselves down 30-15. However, Taylor clawed their way back in the second half and took their first lead at the 4:30 mark in the fourth quarter. Sophomore guard Abby Buchs drilled a 3-pointer to bring Taylor to a 52-50 lead.
The Trojans never looked back and ended the game on a 12-4 run.
"We didn't panic being down 15 so that's a huge accomplishment at the National tournament level," said head coach Jody Martinez. "Once we relaxed and hit a few shots then our confidence carried us in the fourth quarter."
Indeed, the Trojans outscored Northwest Christian 22-10 in the fourth quarter.
According to Netzley and Stratman, the team is not content with just making the National Tournament. The team is keen on making a deep run into this tournament. They know they are a good enough squad to make some noise and lengthen their stay as long as possible.
However, Stratman recognizes how special this time is in Iowa. She said she knows most teams are done for the year, so receiving the chance to continue their season is a remarkable feeling.
While this win is worth celebrating, the turnaround to the next game is short. The next game will not be any easier, either.
Taylor will face No. 2 Concordia today at 11:15 a.m. The Trojans are 0-1 all time against Concordia. The only other time Taylor played against Concordia was in 2009 in the National Tournament, when the Trojans lost 68-51.
Regardless, the Trojans plan to enter each game playing their hardest, intending to go farther in this tournament than they ever have before.
"Photograph provided by TU Sports Information Department"