Briar Cliff's Slone Masters saved a career performance for the bright lights of the big stage on Thursday evening at the Tyson Events Center. Masters drilled 4 of 8 shots from 3-point range on the way to a career high 31 points to lead the 14th-ranked Chargers to a 94-77 victory over No. 20 Siena Heights (Mich.) in the first round of the NAIA Division II National Championships.
Masters nailed 15 of 16 attempts from the free throw to help Briar Cliff pull away in the second half. For the game, the Chargers converted on a white-hot 82.9 percent (29-for-35) from the charity stripe while totaling nine 3-point field goals. They led by as many as 19 points late in the game.
Siena Heights, making its first ever appearance at the national tournament, started out hot and grabbed a 7-0 lead. However, Briar Cliff responded in front of its hometown fans and scored 44 of the half's final 74 points for a 44-37 halftime advantage.
The Chargers' high-powered offensive attack featured four double-figure scorers: Masters, Kelsey Evans (18), Sara Reeves (13) and Mattie Murren (12). Masters added nine rebounds and three steals to her impressive stat line, while Evans also fell just short of a double-double with eight rebounds.
Head coach Mike Power's program continued its mastery of the national tournament first round on Thursday. The Chargers remained unbeaten in first round contests while making its 10th appearance in school history.
The Chargers will play in the second round on at 5:15 p.m. on Friday against second-seeded College of the Ozarks (Mo.), which escaped its first-round tussle against Milligan (Tenn.) in overtime.
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