NCAA Division II Central Regional Quarterfinal: CSU-Pueblo 59, No. 22 Wayne State (NE) 48
DURANGO, Colo. - Friday, a glass ceiling broke in Durango.
CSU-Pueblo, making its third consecutive regional tournament appearance and fourth in five seasons, finally earned its first regional tournament win in school history, coming back from 11 down and using an epic 22-0 run to take out second-seeded and 22nd-ranked Wayne State (Neb.) 59-48 at Fort Lewis College's Whalen Gymnasium.
The ThunderWolves rebounded from an exceedingly poor first half, where it scored a season-low 18 points and shot just 24 percent from the field, trailing 27-18 at the break.
Wayne State kept piling on to start the second half, feeding the ball to its post, Mara Hjelle, who netted 27 points and went 12-for-26 from the floor, and building an 11-point lead.
But CSU-Pueblo, its shots not quite catching fire and its only post player, Caitlyn Jewell (Sr., Pagosa Springs, Colo.) in foul trouble, faced a do-or-die situation midway through the half. Then suddenly, everything began working for the ThunderWolves.
Fueled in large part by momentum shifting three-pointers and Jewell finding her game, CSU-Pueblo began cutting away at the Wildcats' lead.
Jewell, in the lineup despite having four fouls, sank two layups to cut the Wayne State lead to seven. Then Katrina Selsor (Fr., Glenwood Springs, Colo.) hit a three then a pair of charity shots. Then at the 5:56 mark, Jewell hit another shot in the paint, and CSU-Pueblo was suddenly up 46-44.
Instead of relenting, CSU-Pueblo kept piling on, making stop after stop and running their lead all the way up to 13, 57-44, before Wayne State broke their cold streak with a shot at the 35 second mark.
CSU-Pueblo ended the game having outboarded Wayne State 36-34, forcing 20 turnovers and coming away with 12 steals. But more importantly than any stat, they got the monkey off their back.
The win also provided an additional milestone as CSU-Pueblo head coach Kip Drown got his 100th ThunderWolf win Friday.
CSU-Pueblo will now advance to its first ever regional semifinal match Saturday when it takes on Concordia, St. Paul (Minn.), the region's third seed that defeated Adams State 87-59 Friday, with a tipoff scheduled for 5 p.m.