ST. PAUL - The Martin Luther College women's basketball team advanced to the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference Postseason Tournament Championship Game with a 78-72 win at Northwestern Wednesday night.
MLC won the game on the strength of its defense and its ability to score inside the paint, holding Northwestern to 37.7 percent shooting from the field, and outscoring the Eagles 42-16 inside the paint.
Northwestern used the 3-point shot to stay in the game. The Eagles shot 15-for-38 from beyond the arc in the game and held a 35-34 lead at halftime on the strength of nine first-half 3-pointers.
After weathering that first half storm, MLC took control at the start of the second half, scoring eight straight points, and taking a 10-point lead at 49-39 six minutes into the half following a 15-4 run.
Northwestern was able to cut the MLC lead to two at 51-49, but the Knights didn't allow the Eagles to get any closer, building the lead as high as 14 points in the final minutes before withstanding one final Northwestern push down the stretch.
Hannah Hackbarth was the Knights' top scorer, shooting 8-for-12 from the field and 4-for-6 from beyond the 3-point arc on the way to 21 points. Leah Nass also had a big game, scoring 20 points and grabbing seven rebounds, while Alex Anthon added 16 points (13 in the second half), six rebounds and four assists.
MLC shot the ball well for most of the game, making 50.8 percent of its shots from the field and 55.6 percent (5-for-9) from beyond the arc.
With the win, MLC improved to 12-14 on the season, and advanced to the championship game of the UMAC Postseason Tournament. Northwestern dropped to 16-10 on the season with the loss.
The Knights will now host fourth-seeded St. Scholastica in the championship game at 7 p.m. on Saturday night. St. Scholastica upset top-seeded University of Minnesota, Morris 83-78 in overtime on Wednesday to advance.