Close Page

National Champions: women's basketball defeats Baker for NAIA title

News
By Joshua Brisco
Mar 30, 2016

“Three! Two! One!”

The buzzer sounded and Pioneer players, coaches and fans stormed the court, cheering and leaping in celebration as the 49-35 final score was announced in the stadium, bestowing the Pioneers with its new title: champions.

The MidAmerica women’s basketball team poses after its victory over Baker in the NAIA Division I National Championship Game. This is the first National Championship for the women’s basketball team and head coach Jon Lewis. Photo by Jim Smith.The MidAmerica women’s basketball team poses after its victory over Baker in the NAIA Division I National Championship Game. This is the first National Championship for the women’s basketball team and head coach Jon Lewis. Photo by Jim Smith.

On March 22, the second-seeded Pioneers defeated conference rival Baker University (Kan.) for the fourth time this season, but the sixth-seeded Wildcats started the game with the upper hand.

Baker led MidAmerica 12-7 at the end of the first quarter as both teams struggled offensively. In the second quarter, Baker pulled ahead 25-14 with 2:45 left, but the Wildcats’ 11-point lead would be its largest of the game.

Senior forward and NAIA All-American honorable mention Jasmine Webb laid in back-to-back shots in the paint and senior guard Kyleesha Weston hit a buzzer-beating three as time expired in the half, cutting Baker’s lead to four as MNU seized the momentum and electrified the crowd as they headed into the half, trailing 25-21.

The Pioneers did not miss a beat entering the third quarter as they continued to dominate on both sides of the ball.  MidAmerica scored the next 11 points, putting together a 19-0 run before Baker found its lone basket of the third quarter with just 30 seconds left in the period. MNU led 35-27, just 10 minutes from the title.

After the game, head coach and NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year Jon Lewis summarized the halftime adjustments the team made defensively to bring such a dominant second-half performance.

“[The halftime environment] was real calm and we just told them, ‘here’s what we are, here’s what they did.’ They were shooting 45 percent from three, we said ‘they can’t do it again, they can’t get an easy one on you, and you’re going to win this game.’ And they did it.”

Webb opened the fourth quarter with a stunning shot as she hit her first career 3-pointer to make the score 38-27, Pioneers. For the final nine minutes of the game, MidAmerica led by no less than 10 points. NAIA first-team All-American senior guard Megan Balcom said that Webb’s three was one of the most memorable plays of the game.

“One play that sticks out to me was Jasmine’s excitement when she hit that three,” Balcom said. “I was dying. I could not stop laughing running down the court. You could just see all the heart and all the passion come out in one play. It was awesome.”

Baker never took another meaningful run at the Pioneers, and the 49-35 victory was sealed with a suffocating second half defense. Webb explained the team’s mindset and why it was so difficult for Baker to break through the defense.

“All year we’ve been talking about ‘one possession at a time,’ and our defense, if we just cover each other up on defense, then we’ll be good,” Webb said. “We’re going to get everything on offense that we want to get. It’s all just team defense, buy into what the coaches are saying, stay focused and stay in a team unit and we’re good.”

“Good” may have been an understatement in this game. Baker’s 35 points were the fewest scored against the Pioneers all year. Balcom said that the team knew it would be their defense that would take them to the title.

“We just gathered everyone together and we were like, ‘the way we’re going to win this game and the way we won every other game in this national tournament is by our defense,” Balcom said. “Our post players were just in there dominating. They just came out and they were fired up after halftime. We all wanted it.”

Freshman center Whitney Moia (No. 14), senior guard Megan Balcom (No. 10) and senior forward Jasmine Webb (No. 11) celebrate after winning the NAIA National Championship. Down by four points at halftime, the Pioneers gave up just 10 points in the third and fourth quarters combined. Photo by Jorge San Jose.Freshman center Whitney Moia (No. 14), senior guard Megan Balcom (No. 10) and senior forward Jasmine Webb (No. 11) celebrate after winning the NAIA National Championship. Down by four points at halftime, the Pioneers gave up just 10 points in the third and fourth quarters combined. Photo by Jorge San Jose.

After the final buzzer, awards were given out and Pioneer players and coaches took turns cutting down the nets. Weston, who led the team with 21 points in the championship game, was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. Weston was named all-conference honorable mention before the tournament, and Lewis said Weston took that spot in the conference to heart.

“She was really kind of down in the dumps,” Lewis said. “She got honorable mention all-league and then she’s MVP of the tournament. She felt a little slighted, but she gave up some personal accolades for the success of the team and it paid off in the end.”

Weston said she took the honorable mention personally when she was ranked below ten other guards in the conference, but the people closest to her knew her potential.

“It’s something that, obviously, the conference didn’t see it, but my teammates and my coaches, they all saw it and they told me to prove them wrong, and I was happy to do that,” Weston said, still holding a piece of the championship net.

Weston, Balcom, Webb and forward Nathalie Felipe make up the Pioneers’ senior class and will be leaving MidAmerica as champions.

“It’s honestly… I feel like I’m in a dream right now,” Balcom said. “Emotion took over as we hugged each other and said ‘we’re not going down without a fight.’ … It was just a rush of emotion. I mean, a minute left in the game and all of us are just bawling out there trying to continue to play. It was just… it was crazy.”

 

Joshua Brisco

Editor-in-Chief - More by this author

Joshua Brisco ('17) is a multimedia major from Shawnee, Kansas. He has been a member of The Trailblazer as a reporter, sports editor, news editor, managing editor and Editor-in-Chief.

comments powered by Disqus
President David Spittal addresses staff and faculty during an all-campus meeting on April 26 in the Bell Cultural Events Center. During the meeting, Spittal gave updates on the New Horizons initiative and announced the closing of MNU’s Liberty, Missouri campus. Photo by Chace Owen.

MNU to close Liberty campus, address unexpected expenses

In an all-campus meeting with faculty and staff on April 26, university president Dr. David Spittal announced that MNU's Liberty, Missouri, campus would be closing in December 2018.

On April 7, Cook Center was transformed for President’s Honors. This event is largely powered by current MNU students, as they served as wait staff, gave personal testimonies to guests and performed in the band and choir. Photo courtesy of MNU public relations.

Student involvement powers President’s Honors

Students and supporters come together as MNU holds largest fundraiser in university history

Millennials' technological fluency has spawned accusations of social disconnection, but that's nothing new for innovation. Photo by Blake Bradford.

Thanks for the trophies, folks

Millennials are being unfairly targeted by older generations.

The Action Pact improv team poses after its final show of the Fall 2017 semester. Action Pact is a collection of MNU students who perform for the campus, temporarily shedding more weighty (and less-fun) requirements for practice and performances. Photo by Alexandria Bonar.

Smell the roses and drop some chainsaws

Your college experience will be over before you know it; it's okay if it gets messy.

oie 20033R7jxkNKK

Policy over privacy: MNU’s norms in the dorms

MidAmerica promotes itself as a pristine Christian university with no room for inappropriate behavior. There's no partying, no drugs and, of course, no sex. At least, that is the apparent goal.

Michael Lindsey pic

Former student-athletes go pro in Europe

Two former MNU athletes left Olathe for Europe in pursuit of their dreams to play at the next level.

MNU 2017-2018 ASG executive council visited Point Loma Nazarene University. Left to right: Matthew Smith, Brady Hill, Mac Wyatt, Jonny Melton, Alexis Braaten, Lisa Downs, Andrew Dages, Andy Cornelius, Kelsey Woods. Photo by Lisa Downes.

New ASG president brings potential for risks and rewards

When the Associated Student Government election polls closed in March, a new ASG cabinet was voted in, and Jonny Melton, with no prior ASG experience, was elected as next year's student body president.

In this edition of The Forum, MNU student Brandon Baker and The Trailblazer editor-in-chief Joshua Brisco debate whether or not it is a good idea to get married while in college.

The Forum: Marriage in college?

In this edition of The Forum, MNU student Brandon Baker and The Trailblazer editor-in-chief Joshua Brisco debate whether or not it is a good idea to get married while in college. (To view The Forum at a larger size, click here.)

New head volleyball coach Christina Ludwick stands in front of last season’s Heart of America Conference championship banner. Now, Ludwick says she is seeking to build on last season’s success. Photo by Chace Owen.

MNU hires new head volleyball coach

As the first full-time coaching hire since MNU lost four head coaches this winter, Christina Ludwick is looking to keep Pioneer volleyball set for success.

Videos / See More