Kirkwood rallies to reach Division II final

March 22, 1997


Staff Correspondent

Desiree Francis scored 14 of her team-high 22 points during an emotional 11-minute span in the second half Friday night, rallying Kirkwood (Iowa) to a 79-61 win over Lake Michigan. The Eagles move into tonight's NJCAA Women's Division II championship final against Carl Sandburg College (Ill.) at 8 p.m.

It was a tale of two halves again for Kirkwood, as Lake Michigan hit seven 3-pointers in the first half to take a seemingly comfortable 38-31 lead at the break.

"Our defense hurt us the first half, no doubt about it," said Kirkwood coach Kim Muhl. "I was subbing freely and trying to rest our legs, and (Lake Michigan) spread our press and hit all those treys. At halftime we dwelled on that, and the second half our guards got the ball inside to our big kids, who can all score. That made the difference."


Kirkwood (33-3) stepped up the defensive tempo to open the second half, shutting down the Indians' perimeter offense, and pulled into a 44-44 tie at the 10-minute mark. Francis then scored the go-ahead bucket on a breakaway. It was all Eagles the rest of the night.

As they had in all three tournament games, the Eagles needed someone to get them going the second half, and Francis was that one. Kirkwood got on a roll, and at one point scored on five straight possessions to forge a 10-point lead with just under three minutes left.

Jessi Vercande (seven points), who had an unusually cold-shooting night, hit her only trey of the evening at the 2:46 mark for a 67-54 lead. The Eagles' Jamie Juhl drilled 8 of 8 free throws down the stretch to seal the win.

"We split with Carl Sandburg during the regular season," said Muhl. "And coach Shearer and I are good friends. Our teams are very similar. It should be a great game."

Juhl (14), Allison Iverson (13) and Angie Ryan (11) all scored in double figures for Kirkwood.

Lake Michigan's Sara Redamak scored a game-high 26 points and pulled down 13 rebounds to lead the Indians. Traci Totzke added 14 points.

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