By Matt Green
WINONA LAKE, Ind. -- Late in the second half of Shorter's consolation bracket game with Roberts Wesleyan, Lady Hawks' junior Kristin Nash lined up for a deep 3, drained it, then flashed a big smile at teammate Karisma Boykin.
She had plenty of reason to grin. Nash and the Lady Hawks had everything working against the Redhawks.
Nash poured in a career-high 27 points, Lindsey Crawford recorded her second straight double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds, and fifth-seeded Shorter coasted to a 73-52 win over eighth-seeded Roberts Wesleyan in the first game of the 5th Place Bracket at the NCCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship on Thursday.
Shorter (18-12) advances to tomorrow night's 5th Place Game, where it will square off with the winner of this afternoon's matchup between No. 3 seed Cedarville and No. 7 seed Grace College. The 5th Place Game will tip at 5 pm ET.
After a frustrating offensive outing in their national quarterfinal loss to No. 4 Southern Nazarene on Wednesday, the Lady Hawks put together an efficient outing against Roberts Wesleyan (15-14), which had taken the tournament's top seed and Shorter's Gulf South Conference rival Union University to overtime in the quarters.
Nash spearheaded the offensive explosion, going 6-for-7 from 3 and scoring 20 of her career high total in the second half to help the Lady Hawks pull away. Shorter made 11 shots from beyond the arc, getting three treys from reserve Madison Rice and one each from Maggie Peeples and Boykin.
Crawford was exceptional defensively for the Lady Hawks, spending much of her time guarding Roberts Wesleyan leading scorer Marissa Sell. Sell, who went for 28 against Union the night before, scored 18 on 7-for-14 shooting, but had three shots blocked by Crawford, who totaled 12 defensive rebounds to keep Sell off the offensive glass.
Shorter led by as much as 10 in the first half, went into the halftime locker room up 33-24, and used Nash's long range shooting to put the game away in the second.
Nash hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions late in the second half to spark 16-2 Shorter run that turned a six-point lead into a 66-46 advantage with 4:20 to play. Rice drilled a 3 and Crawford made 1 of 2 from the line to cap the spurt. Moments later, Boykin drained a 3 from the corner to give Shorter its largest lead of 23.
The Lady Hawks opened the game on a 10-4 run, but Roberts Wesleyan, still confident from its near miss against Union less than 24 hours earlier, put up a fight.
Marissa Bunce, who finished with 11 points, made a pair from distance to ignite a 10-0 Redhawks run and give RWC a 14-10 lead with 13:29 left until halftime. But Rice hit the first of her two first half 3-pointers to put Shorter in the lead to stay at the 10:46 mark and the Lady Hawks closed the first half on a 6-2 run to go up nine and take momentum into the locker room.
Rice and Shelby Farrer finished with nine points each while Farrer narrowly missed a double-double with nine rebounds. Boykin had her patented all-around game with five points, six rebounds and eight assists. Shorter shot 42 percent and held Roberts Wesleyan to 33 percent and a 5-for-20 outing from beyond the arc.