KEOKUK - The Iowa Central women are one win away from returning to the NJCAA tournament after a thrilling 58-56 victory over 12th-ranked (Div. II) DMACC here Friday night.
Former St. Edmond Gael standout Lydia Harvey scored 14 points, ex-Gael teammate Theresa Doyle added 13 and the Tritons earned a hard-fought Region XI tournament semifinal round victory.
Iowa Central (23-8 overall) will face seventh-ranked Kirkwood (28-4) here on Saturday afternoon for a berth in the national tournament. The Eagles defeated Southeastern, 63-45.
Tip is set for 3 p.m.
"I couldn't be more proud of this team," said ICCC head coach Craig Carlson. "They really handed it to us twice this year, so to come over here and beat them right now, when it matters the most, I am just so proud.
"These girls are sitting on 23 wins and are battle-tested. They have shown so much grit this year, and we have one more to go."
IOWA CENTRAL 58, DMACC 56
Iowa Central - Lydia Harvey 14, Theresa Doyle 13, Babaya Oja 11, Jasmine Binion 7, Miliakere Koyamainavure 6, Lauren Bengen 3, Jade Gregory 1, Katie Dentlinger 3.
DMACC - Carlee Schumacher 13, Taryn Wicks 10, Olivia Sulentic 8, Kelsey Flynaardt 6, Katie Kullmer 6, Sarah Frisch 4, Jalissa Felici 4, Kate Ray 2, Maci Robeoltman 3.
The Tritons jumped out to a 34-21 halftime advantage behind their three-point shooting. Overall, Iowa Central hit nine triples.
"We were able to open it up a bit (in the first 20 minutes)," Carlson said. "(DMACC) was able to stay in it, though, because we just couldn't make our free throws."
For the game, the Tritons went just 9 of 21 at the line, but were able to make enough at the end when it mattered the most.
Babaya Oja added 11 points and seven rebounds, while Harvey grabbed another six boards.
"Oja made a free throw late, and DMACC had to go the length of the court and couldn't get off a shot (at the end)," Carlson said. "I just can't say enough about these girls; how hard they have fought and how much heart they have shown."
DMACC's Carlee Schumacher, who was named the player of the year in the ICCAC, scored 13 points. The Bears bow out at 24-8 overall.
Iowa Central lost 74-50 and 72-69 against Kirkwood earlier this year.
"We need to shoot the three and work hard for rebounds (vs. Kirkwood)," Carlson said. "Doyle was huge for us (Friday), hitting four three-pointers, and we are going to need more of that (today)."
The Tritons have won eight of their last 10 games overall.