With an NCAA tournament bid secured, the Duhawks headed into back-to-back conference road games with a chance to finish with double digit wins in Iowa Conference play. The first game brought the Duhawks to Pella for a matchup with the Central College Dutch.
The Duhawks struggled in the first half, but were able to even the score with under five minutes remaining thanks to senior Victoria May. The captain dominated the inside, making her presence known with eight straight points to give the Duhawks a 24-21 lead at the half.
In the second half, the Duhawks were able to build a commanding lead when freshman Lauren Stanich knocked down a three. However, poor ball control and foul trouble allowed the Dutch back into the game.
“We had a number of chances to put them away, but we allowed them to stay in the game and they took advantage,” said head coach Justin Heinzen.
Central’s Kenzie Vander Molen led the charge and swung the momentum in their favor.
With the score tied at 59 and time running out, sophomore Kat Cabrera put up an off-balanced shot that rimmed out and sent the game to overtime.
In the extra period, Vander Molen took control, scoring 10 of the Dutch’s 15 points. The guard proved to be too much for the Duhawks, as they fell 74-70.
The Duhawks knew they had to have a short memory, as they traveled to Indianola for a matchup with the Simpson College Storm in their last regular season game of the year.
The game was a tale of two halves for the Duhawks. In the first half, they showed their ability to dominate. Loras came out of the gate hot, hitting their first three shots to take a 10-2 early lead.
The Duhawks continued to demonstrate their offensive prowess, working the inside and cashing in on easy buckets. Sophomore Lori Obendorf put up 13 in the first half, using her size to her advantage.
“Our presence inside really gave us the early advantage and we knew that was our best chance to set the tone for the game,” said Obendorf, who finished with a career-high 21 points along with her 10 rebounds and four blocks.
Along with impressive offense came airtight defense. The Duhawks shot 55.6 percent and limited the Storm to only 36.0 percent. Obendorf provided the exclamation point with an emphatic block at the halftime buzzer, as the Duhawks led, 39-23.
The second half proved to be a reversal of fortunes, as the Duhawks struggled to find an answer against Simpson’s offensive attack. An 18-0 run by the Storm brought them within two, setting the stage for a fight to the finish.
The Storm pulled ahead for the first time behind the long-range onslaught by Whitney Van Wyk, knocking down a trio of threes in the half. The teams went back and forth from that point on, even up to the game’s final seconds.
Down one with 3.4 seconds left, Obendorf had her shot rejected and the Storm corralled the ball. A foul sent them to the line, connecting on both to extend the lead to three with little time remaining. With one last chance, junior Kaitlin Phillips hustled up court and buried a last-second trey to tie it up, and the Duhawks headed to their second overtime in as many games.
In overtime, the Duhawks were able to go back to what worked so well in the first half, getting the ball into the post and letting their bigs take advantage. Victoria May was able to draw contact inside and hit both free throws to give Loras the lead. Suffocating defense by the Duhawks shut the Storm down and they were able to pull out the 70-65 victory, securing a season sweep of Simpson.
With their regular season over, the Duhawks entered post-season play at the No. 4 seed, setting them up for a first-round tussle with Wartburg.
Loras swept the fifth-seeded Dutch in their two regular season matchups, but when the teams met in the AWC Tuesday night, Wartburg got its revenge.
The Duhawks led by three at half, but an abysmal shooting second half proved to be their undoing. Loras shot 23.5 percent from the floor in the second, and fell to the Dutch, 65-58.
Phillips led the Duhawks with 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists before fouling out late in the game. Carly Goede and Obendorf both chipped in with eight.
The loss marks the final game for seniors Victoria May and Goede. May closed out her Loras career averaging 11.5 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. At season’s end, May led the Iowa Conference in shooting percentage with a mark of .593, followed closely by Obendorf, who finished second in the conference at .579 percent.
In her first year as a Duhawk, Goede started all 26 games, averaging 10.1 points and providing some much-needed outside shooting for the Duhawks.