The St. Thomas women have been up and down this year, at least by Tommie standards. After getting to the NCAA D3 Final Four a year ago, the Tommies lost 3 in a row and 4 of 6 in January to finish 18-4 and in 2nd place in the MIAC. But a win at Concordia (Moorhead) in the MIAC playoff final set things closer to right.
And now! The unranked Tommies knocked off #3 rated Calvin (23-3) 64-62 Friday night at Mt. Vernon, IA, to establish that another Final Four run is firmly in their sights. The D3Hoops Web site (not to be confused with the NCAA Web site) called it a "dramatic win" for St. Thomas and a "heartbreaking loss" for Calvin, and why not? Calvin led 62-55 with 2 minutes to play, but the Tommies fought back to within 62-61, and then Jenna Dockter drained a 3 with 9 seconds left for the win.
In fact, the Tommies had to rally twice, 1st from a 6-point deficit to lead 55-53 with 6 minutes left. Then, after a 9-0 Calvin run, came the final, game-winning surge. Kellie Ring hit a 3, then Dockter hit the 1st of 2 FT. She missed the 2nd but got her own rebound and fed Taylor Young for a lay-up to make it 62-61.
It is the 2nd straight year that St. Thomas has ended Calvin's season. Last year it was 83-72 in OT in the Elite 8. Earlier this year, Calvin beat St. Thomas 78-72, and earlier yet the Tommies beat Calvin in the D3 volleyball championship game. And now St. Thomas has again won when the chips were down as Young scored 19, Dockter 15 and Ring 10. Dockter added 4 assists and Ring 5 steals, while Kelly Brandenburg scored 8 and led the Tommies with 9 boards.
St. Thomas now plays #12 Cornell IA (25-1) 7 p.m. tonight at Cornell (Mt. Vernon, IA) for the right to advance to the Sweet 16.
Player of the Day: Rashad Vaughn, Robbinsdale Cooper boys; Porter Morrell, Elk River boys; and Carlie Wagner, New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva girls all scored 36 points. Cooper and Elk River needed all of it: Cooper edged Spring Lake Park 80-77 and Elk River rallied to a 62-57 win over Centennial. Wagner out-scored Blue Earth all by herself in a 63-28 rout.
Coach of the Day: Ruth Sinn, St. Thomas women, gets a head start on Coach of the Month honors. A win tonight and a couple next weekend are probably needed to put her in the running for Coach of the Year. Don't bet against it.