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The Journal Gazette

  • Katie Fyfe | The Journal Gazette Indiana Tech's Kendall Knapke shoots the ball while Lawrence Tech's Kendall Fisher tries to stop her during the fourth quarter at the Schaefer Center on Saturday.

  • Katie Fyfe | The Journal Gazette Indiana Tech's Bella Lozano-Dobbs goes to shoot the ball while Lawrence Tech's Kaitlyn Smith tries to stop her during the fourth quarter at the Schaefer Center on Saturday.

  • Katie Fyfe | The Journal Gazette Indiana Tech's Alexis Hill goes to shoot the ball during the third quarter against the Lawrence Tech Blue Devils at the Schaefer Center on Saturday.

  • Katie Fyfe | The Journal Gazette Lawrence Tech's Alex Ruster and Indiana Tech's Bella Lozano-Dobbs go after the ball on the ground during the third quarter at the Schaefer Center on Saturday.

Saturday, February 23, 2019 5:50 pm

WHAC Tournament semifinals

Tech women, men in WHAC tourney finals

ELIZABETH WYMAN | The Journal Gazette

The Indiana Tech women played like a team on a mission.

The Warriors shot 61.1 percent from the field, won the rebound, free throw and assist battles and held Lawrence Tech's best player to 4 of 15 from the field as they defeated the Blue Devils 89-65 in the Wolverine Hoosier Athletic Conference semifinals Saturday at the Schaefer Center.

"We have some unfinished business. We've been saying that this whole week," Tech junior guard DeAnn Kauffman said. "We had a really good game today and it's just exciting to be playing this good again as the postseason's coming."

That unfinished business is winning the WHAC Tournament title. The Warriors are already in the NAIA Division 2 national tournament, but they let the conference tournament title slip through the cracks last year with a three-point loss to Cornerstone in the final.

"It's something that we didn't get to do last year and you better believe all of our returners remember that," Tech coach Jessie Biggs said.

With the Indiana Tech men defeating Madonna 83-68 on Saturday in Livonia, Michigan, it'll be an all-Warrior final this year.

If the No. 1 seeded Indiana Tech (29-3) women start Monday's final anything like it did Saturday, then No. 2 Aquinas (25-7) could be in a for a long game.

Kauffman was a force in the paint early, scoring the game's first four points right at the rim. Kauffman and Alexis Hill scored 19 points apiece to lead the Warriors.

"My teammates were just giving me the ball in the right position, so that's all you can ask for," Kauffman said. "We knew we could post up their smaller guards and finish closer to the rim."

The Warriors were working the transition game, as Kendall Knapke scoring on a nifty baseline floater to put Indiana Tech up 16-8 with 4:35 left in the first quarter.

The 3-pointers were falling for Indiana Tech. Kyra Whitaker's step-back 3-pointer as time expired on a possession that looked like it was going nowhere put the Warriors up 19-10 with 1:15 left in the first.

"Huge for our confidence, huge for our momentum and once we got up we stayed up an didn't let up on them," Knapke said.

The Warriors held Blue Devils' leading scorer, `Nicole Buckingham, who's averaging 18 points, to just 11 points on 4 of 15 form the field.

"We put Rachel Bell on her," Biggs said. "She's an unbelievable defender; Rachel's long and she understands the scouting report top to bottom."

Lawrence Tech (22-10) went on a 7-0 run with 7:15 left in the first half, but Jenna Szostak hit back-to-back 3s to push the lead to a then game-high 15 points at 35-20 midway through the second quarter.

"Every individual did the one thing they're really good at and we took advantage of that, finding them when they're open," Biggs said. "When we're that aggressive offensively we're tough to guard."

Indiana Tech plays host to Aquinas at 7 p.m. Monday. The Warriors split the season series with the Saints. 

Meanwhile, the No. 3 seeded Tech men's basketball team stunned No. 2 Madonna. Edmond Early led the way for Tech with 17 points and Dylan Phair added 14. Tech went 11 of 27 on 3-pointers and held Madonna to just 3 of 29. The Warriors will play No. 1 Cornerstone at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

ewyman@jg.net