GRAND RAPIDS — The Thomas More Saints hoisted the national trophy for Division III women's basketball with a 83-63 win over George Fox on Saturday night. It was the Saints' first team championship in Thomas More history, Cincinnati.com reported
In the battle between two 32-0 teams — the first Division III women's championship between undefeated squads — the Saints controlled from the opening tip, hitting their first three shots to take an early lead. They never trailed.
George Fox, the 2009 national champion and 2012 runner-up, reached the finals with a relentless full court press. The Saints had faced little full court pressure this season, thanks to Abby Owings, Sydney Moss, and Sydni Wainscott, all of whom were able to handle point guard duties. Head Coach Jeff Hans went to a four guard lineup at times with Olivia Huber coming off the bench. The Saints still had to overcome several uncharacteristic turnovers, but balanced those miscues with a bounty of fast break points.
Moss was the focal point of the opposing defense. It took the nation's leading scorer more than 11 minutes to make her first field goal. The two-time national player of the year found other ways to help her team win. She led Thomas More with 19 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists.
Miss. State coach let go
Mississippi State has ended basketball coach Rick Ray's short tenure after three straight losing seasons eroded a large chunk of the program's fan support.
The school released a statement announcing the decision on Saturday. Ray had a 37-60 record over three seasons, including a 15-44 mark against Southeastern Conference competition.
Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin told The Associated Press he spent more than a week wrestling with the unpleasant decision before making the call to end Ray's tenure.
"Because of the respect I have for Rick, I wanted to believe he could get us where we wanted to be," Stricklin said. "But as time passed, I had less confidence that was accurate. When you get to that point, it's probably best for all concerned that you try a different direction."
Ray has two years remaining on a contract that pays about $1 million annually. Stricklin said the school will owe "a portion" of that salary, but that the contract is not fully guaranteed.
Stricklin acknowledged Ray was doing a good job in several off-the-court areas, but progress on the court "has not been satisfactory."
Pikeville loses in NAIA
Kenny Manigault had made the shot so many times it felt like a sure thing, but the senior's runner in the lane rolled off the rim as time expired and No. 7-seed University of Pikeville lost to No. 2-seed Talladega 64-62 in the quarterfinals of the NAIA Men's Basketball National Championship on Saturday.
In Manigault's final performance in a UPIKE uniform, he paced the team with 20 points, pulled down seven rebounds and added two steals, two assists and a block. K.K. Simmons joined him in double figures with 19 points, including three three-pointers, and Michael Eneh had a game-high 11 rebounds.