The Valley City State University womens basketball team played its way into the championship game at the Association of Independent Institutions conference tournament in Madison, S.D.
The Vikings clinched an NAIA national tournament berth, but fell just short of a conference championship.
In the A.I.I. championship game, a slow start led to a big second half comeback before the No. 4 seeded Vikings ran out of steam in a 52-50 overtime loss to No. 3 seed Cal State San Marco.
Playing their third game in three days, the Vikings shot just one for 17 from the floor in the first 12 minutes of the game, pitting them with a 27-18 half time deficit before Valley City State mounted a second half comeback.
Starting the second half on a 13-0 run the Vikings took a 31-27 lead with 13:56 to play in the game. From there, both teams traded leads throughout the second half before the Vikings took a four point lead with four minutes to play. Cal State San Marcos scored the final four points of the game to send the championship thriller to overtime.
After two three point shots to open the extra stanza, Cal State San Marcos got a six point lead before the Vikings answered to make it a two point game at 54-52. Viking freshman Sierra Even’s 3-point shot at the buzzer missed the mark, and Cal State San Marcos claimed the A.I.I. Championship.
Brittany Lehner scored 15 points to lead the Vikings in scoring as she also collected six rebounds. Courtney Titus followed with 13 points while grabbing seven boards and Even rounded out the double digit Viking scorers with 10 points.
Saturday Valley City beat No. 7 Jamestown 58-50 behind a defense that allowed the Jimmies to hit only six shots in the first half.
The Vikings’ Brittany Lehner was named the top player in the A.I.I. Womens All-Tournament team after averaging 15 points per game. Courtney Titus also was named to the team after averaging nine points and five rebounds per game.
Vikings men beat in A.I.I. semifinals
Valley City State, the No. 2 seed in the A.I.I. Mens Basketball Conference Tournament, was upset by the No. 3 seed and Dakota State University 82-73 in the tournament semifinals Saturday in Madison, S.D.
Despite shooting 50 percent from the 3-point line, the Vikings couldn’t overcome the hot shooting of the host-Trojans. Dakota State shot 62.5 percent from the field in the second half and also held a huge advantage from the free-throw line. The Trojans shot a total of 42 free throws and hit 27. Comparatively, the Vikings went 15-20 from the free-throw line.
Dakota State also held a sizeable advantage in interior scoring. The Trojans scored 40 points in the paint to the Vikings’ 18.
The Vikings were led by junior Sekani Milligan who scored 23 points including 6-8 shooting from the three point line. Two other Vikings scored in double figures. Aaron Duske had 16 and A.J. McDonald had 11.
The loss drops the No. 25 ranked Vikings to 20-10 on the season.