Second-seeded CBU took down the seventh-seed and tournament host Grace Lady Lancers 83-65 on the opening day of the tournament to extend the team's 14-game winning streak and move on to the semifinals.
"We faced a little adversity early on, but the girls did a great job keeping calm and pushing through," said CBU Head Coach Jarrod Olson. "It's just great to see the girls continue to play with confidence. They came out here really looking to make this a better experience and a better result than last time and this is a great start."
The Lancers were bounced in the opening round of last year's tournament by eighth-seed and eventual champion Colorado Christian. A strong second half surge made sure that wasn't the case this year.
In a tightly contested first half CBU looked to finally build a comfortable lead midway through the period when Simone Holmes and Mekiala Qualls hit back to back jumpers to give the Lancers a nine-point advantage.
CBU would go up by as much as 13 points in the opening half, but Grace closed the period with a 13-3 run to make it a 36-33 going into the break.
It wasn't until midway through the second half that the Lancers found the run they had been looking for, pouring in 10 straight points to open up a 58-41 lead at the 10:44 mark.
CBU got baskets from three different players in the run and four free throws from Jasmine Beverly, as the Lancers held Grace scoreless for nearly four minutes. Four of the CBU points came off of Grace turnovers and two more came on an offensive board.
CBU owned a 38-27 rebounding advantage, grabbing 12 offensive boards in the game and won the turnover battle 11-15. The Lancers had 10 steals.
"We didn't really do anything different in the second half," said Olson. "I think our defense finally just wore them down. They were hitting some tough shots in the first half and those finally stopped falling later in the game."
CBU led comfortably the rest of the way, going up by as much as 24 at one point.
As she has for six of the last nine games, Holmes led the Lancers with 22 points, hitting 10 of 12 shots. The senior guard also had a game high five steals.
"Simone did a good job getting in the passing lanes and turning those steals into easy buckets," said Olson. "She was really good tonight. I thoughtplayed well also, especially in the second half and did a good job taking care of things under the basket. It was just a nice team effort and a good way to get things going."
CBU put four players in double figures, getting 18 points from Amy Browne. The Lancers shot 51.5 percent from the floor in the game.and 15 apiece from Qualls and
Grace hit 42.7 percent of its 57 attempts in the game and were led by Allison Kaufman with 13 points.
CBU moves on to face sixth-seed Oklahoma Christian in the semifinals Thursday at 5:45 p.m. (PDT). The Lancers are now 24-5 on the year, while Grace falls to 19-15.