SIOUX CITY, Iowa - Defending national champion Northwestern College of Iowa used a 26-3 run midway through the first half to defeat Covenant College 86-54 in the first round of the NAIA Division II women's basketball tournament Thursday night.

King College from Covenant's league lost earlier, 77-67 to Missouri's College of the Ozarks, after trailing 49-25 at halftime.

"We just couldn't throw it in the ocean," Covenant coach Roy Heintz said of the decisive stretch in the Lady Scots' first loss in nine games. "We were up 15-11 but stayed at 15 for a long time.

"We played well early but had a case of nerves. We couldn't make shots and we couldn't sustain our defense for a full 30 seconds. They made a lot of jump shots with four or five seconds left on the shot clock."

Covenant's All-American candidate, Liz Martin, led all players with 24 points and four steals, but she was only 6-of-30 from the field and 1-of-14 on 3-point shots. Ashley Wilson, who added 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds, also was 1-of-14 on 3s as the Lady Scots (20-13) went 3-of-40.

"They really sagged off us and challenged to make 3s, and that proved effective," Heintz said.

Randa Hultstein had 20 points and Becca Hurley and Kami Kuhlmann scored 16 apiece for Northwestern (24-8), and Hurley and Hulstein had 11 rebounds each.

Ashley Deans had 22 points and 11 rebounds for King (14-18), which got 15, 12 and 10 points from Anisha Buchanan, Kristi Moody and Holly Nickels.


Covenant (20-13)

Cross 2, Martin 24, Wilson 18, Forland 3, Craft 3, Gulhas 4, D. Walls, C. Walls, Southerland, Heard, Voorhees.

Northwestern (24-8)

Hurley 16, Neth 5, Kuhlmann 16, Kleinjan 7, Ra. Hulstein 20, Hulst 2, Nieuwsma 2, A. Wedel 2, Kallemeyn 6, Anderson 1, J. Wedel 3, Klinkenborg 2, Babcock 2, Ry. Hulstein 2.

Halftime: Northwestern, 38-24.