Cedar Rapids, Iowa — A huge second quarter by the home team ended up propelling St. Thomas to an 85-56 victory over Wartburg tonight in St. Paul, Minn. The Tommies, who barely survived a Sweet 16 showdown against Amherst last night, left no doubt thanks in part to a 24-13 second quarter that extended a five-point lead to 16 by halftime. Wartburg, ranked No. 11 nationally, ended its season at 27-4 overall. UST moves on to the Final Four next weekend ranked No. 2 and sporting an overall record of 29-1. The only blemish was a regular-season loss to Wartburg back on December 30.
Trailing 19-14 at the end of 10 minutes, the second-quarter onslauight began in the first two minutes. A layup and consecutive 3-pointers stretched the lead to 13 seemingly in the blink of an eye. Amanda Brainerd made two free throws to halt the run, but UST then hit two more threes to go up 17. The teams traded points for the rest of the half.
It was clear Wartburg needed a major third-quarter push to get back in the game. It went the other way. The Tommies scored the first five points of the quarter, starting a 14-4 streak that was the beginning of the end for the Knights. The 24-14 third quarter had UST up by 26 as the fourth quarter began. The Tommies continued to pull away to the 29-point final margin.
Adrienne Boettger paced Wartburg with 12 points, while Brainerd and Payton Draper added 10 each. Lucia Renikoff led UST with 22 points. The Tommies were deadly from 3-point range, making 16-of-30 from behind the line. That performance led to an overall FG percentage of nearly 60% (31-of-52). Wartburg was 59-of-70 from the foul line in the first three games of the NCAA tournament and kept going tonight by hitting 19-of-23. The field-goal shooting of 17-of-45 (38%) was significantly below the 49% aggregate in the NCAAs. A 40% team from 3-point range that averaged almost 10 made in the three previous NCAA games, Wartburg was just 3-of-8 tonight.
Another deep run by its champion and a second NCAA bid for the second time in the last four years made 2018-19 a very successful one for the American Rivers Conference. Twenty-one players who made the all-conference team (1st, 2nd, HM) return for the 2019-20 season.