BILLINGS – In a battle of Bears, Rocky Mountain College jumped out to an early 7-2 lead, but cold shooting doomed them from there in a 65-57 loss to the Shawnee State (Ohio) Bears in Thursday night’s opening round of the NAIA Women’s Basketball National Championship.
Neither team shot the ball well inside Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark, with both finishing around 37 percent for the game. But Shawnee State out-rebounded Rocky by 17 and used 17 second-chance points to pull away. The out-of-state Bears led by as many as 15 in the fourth quarter.
Rocky trailed 15-14 after the first and 32-26 at halftime.
Three Rocky players scored in double figures. Markaela Francis led the Bears with 18 points and eight rebounds, Brooke Jones scored 13 and was followed by Kloie Thatcher with 12.
Shawnee State (25-9) had four players in double figures. Ashton Lovely and Hannah Miller scored 13 apiece. Bailey Cummins and Sydney King each had 11.
Shawnee State was held without a field goal in the game’s final 6:39, but free throws iced it for the Bears.
This was the third straight year Rocky (20-13) was eliminated in the tournament’s first round.
Shawnee State advances to Friday’s second round against Clarke (Iowa) at 8 p.m.