#16 SHU Women Advance to First WHAC Final, Receive Bid to Second Straight NAIA Tourney

#16 SHU Women Advance to First WHAC Final, Receive Bid to Second Straight NAIA Tourney

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Sierra Calhoun scored 20 points while Grace Howrigon finished with 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists as the 16th-ranked Siena Heights women's basketball team held off 24th-ranked Cornerstone for a 67-58 victory in a Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference Tournament semifinal on Saturday.

Alexis Knannlein added 11 points for the Saints (25-7), who advanced to their first WHAC Tournament final in program history. SHU also claimed its second consecutive bid to the NAIA Division II Tournament.

Siena Heights held the lead until Cornerstone's Katelyn Cousins converted a pair of free throws with 2:23 left in the game, tying the game at 53-all.

Calhoun then made a basket with 2:05 left, putting the Saints ahead 55-53. After that, SHU ramped up the defense, holding the Golden Eagles without a meaningful field goal the rest of the way.

The Saints scored their last 12 points from the free-throw line, getting six from Howrigon, four from Calhoun and two from Knannlein. The trio combined to go 12 of 12. Cornerstone was 0-for-5 from the field until a late field goal after the game was decided.

Siena Heights had taken the early lead, scoring the game's first six points, before taking a 28-20 advantage into halftime. SHU's largest lead was 43-30 before a 13-3 Cornerstone run trimmed the hosts' deficit to 48-47.

The Eagles (22-9) twice closed the gap to one point before finally drawing even at 53-53.

Cousins led Cornerstone with 23 points while Jill Hendrickson finished with a double-double worth 10 points and 10 rebounds. Ashley Niedermayer added seven rebounds.

SHU will return to action on Tuesday when it visits second-ranked Davenport for a 7:30 p.m. WHAC Tournament final tip-off. The top-seed Panthers (30-1) defeated Indiana Tech, 87-60, in their Saturday semifinal.

Davenport win also helped Siena Heights. Since the Panthers claimed the WHAC's first bid via the regular-season title, they are ineligible for the auto bid that goes to the WHAC Tournament winner. In the event of DU reaching the final, its opponent would receive the WHAC Tournament automatic qualifier -- thus clinching the Saints' bid to Sioux City, Iowa.