Nobody knows how difficult it is to beat a team in the fourth meeting of a season more than Central Missouri women’s basketball coach Dave Slifer.
Slifer was 0-6 when going up against a team for a fourth time heading into Friday’s regional opener against Lindenwood, but the Jennies had no trouble snapping that streak for their longtime coach.
Central Missouri broke away from the Lions in the second half, earning their fourth win over Lindenwood on the season with a 76-64 victory at Gross Memorial Coliseum.
“I’m glad I’m off the schneid,” Slifer said. “… This has been 23 years of frustration playing a team for a fourth time and we finally did get over the hump. Just very, very proud of this bunch.”
The defending national champion Jennies (25-6) advanced to the regional semifinal to meet either Southwestern Oklahoma State or Emporia State at 5 p.m. on Saturday.
In a rematch of last Saturday’s MIAA Tournament semifinal, UCM (25-6) trailed 39-35 at halftime but outscored the Lions 26-15 in the third quarter to take a seven-point lead into the fourth frame. The Jennies opened the fourth on a 10-2 run to extend the lead to 15 with 7:09 left and kept a double-digit advantage the rest of the way.
“Second half, I was very proud of the kids,” Slifer said. “I thought we locked in defensively and I thought we got off great, great shots.”
Junior Megan Skaggs scored a game-high 25 points, hitting 9 of 10 shots from the field and going 6 of 6 from the foul line.
“In halftime we talked about getting the ball moved and I think that opened up the post,” Skaggs said. “I feel like I did make some plays, but you’ve got to credit my teammates for making plays with me.”
Morgan Fleming added 21 points for the the Jennies, going 5 of 10 from the floor and 11 of 14 from the line, while Sydney Crockett added 14. The Jennies top scorer, Paige Redmond (16.2 points per games) scored five points on 2-of-9 shooting.
UCM shot 59.1 percent (26 of 44) from the field and went 18 of 25 from the stripe. Lindenwood was 48.1 percent from the field (26 of 54) while going 8 of 13 from the line.
The Lions (21-8) were led by Kallie Bildner’s 17 while Lindsay Medlen and Sara Ross each had 13.