Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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Kirkwood Womens Basketball

Kirkwood - Womens Basketball

No. 2 Eagles win thriller in semis

HARRISON, Ark. - Kim Muhl has enjoyed a long list of tremendous victories during his 29 years as Kirkwood's head coach, but Friday night's triumph over Highland has to rank near the top.

The second-ranked Eagles stormed back from a nine-point deficit in the second half and trimmed the third-ranked Scotties, 77-74, in the semifinals of the NJCAA Division II national tournament at Pioneer Pavilion.

Kirkwood (34-3) will face top-ranked Monroe (28-2) in the championship game Saturday night at 7:30, with Muhl seeking his eighth national crown with the Eagles and second in a row.

Highland had won all 34 of its games this season and was averaging 99.3 points per game, by far the highest mark in the country with outbursts of 138, 137 and 134 points, but the Eagles kept them under wraps for the most part with an effective zone defense that yielded to a man-to-man in the fourth quarter.

Highland launched a long 3-pointer in the final seconds in an effort to tie the game and force overtime, but the shot missed the basket by several feet and Kirkwood got the ball out-of-bounds with just six-tenths of a second remaining.

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Kirkwood - Womens Basketball

No. 2 Eagles survive upset bid at tourney

HARRISON, Ark. - The Kirkwood Eagles breathed a big sigh of relief Wednesday night and moved into the semifinals of the NJCAA Division II national tournament.

The second-ranked Eagles squandered most of a 16-point lead but survived an upset bid by seventh-ranked North Arkansas, 65-61, in the quarterfinals of the women's tourney at Pioneer Pavilion.

Kirkwood (33-3) will face third-ranked Highland (31-0) in the semifinals Friday night at 6 p.m.

Kirkwood led 45-29 midway through the third quarter, but the Eagles committed a string of turnovers that helped North Arkansas storm back into the ballgame at 45-43 early in the fourth period with a 14-0 run.

The Pioneers, playing before a big crowd on their home floor, had all the momentum in their favor, but the Eagles never got rattled and found a way to win their 23th straight game and hand North Arkansas its only loss at home this season.

"They had a great crowd, a great atmosphere," said Kirkwood Coach Kim Muhl, who is seeking his eighth national title. "They hit shots that were tough shots, I thought.

"We survived it," he said. "I thought our kids showed a lot of resilience. Just enough to win."

Christmas Puok hit a pair of big 3-pointers to give Kirkwood a little breathing room at 52-44 with 6:15 left and it was still an eight-point game at 60-52 when Awal Ajak scored for the Eagles with 1:45 remaining.

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Kirkwood - Womens Basketball

No. 2 KCC women roll at national tourney

HARRISON, Ark. - The Kirkwood Eagles jumped to a 24-2 lead after the first quarter Tuesday afternoon and crushed Gogebic Community College, 95-56, in the opening round of the NJCAA Division II national tournament.

The second-ranked Eagles (32-3) will face North Arkansas College (20-6) in the quarterfinals Wednesday at 8 p.m.

North Arkansas is the host school and the entire tournament is being played on its home court at Pioneer Pavilion in Harrison, Ark., where they have a strong following.

"It will be packed here tomorrow night," said Kirkwood Coach Kim Muhl. "It will be rocking, because they're pretty excited about them playing. It will be a wild one, I think."

North Arkansas won its regional title to earn a spot in the national tournament as the No. 7 seed.

"They had to win the right to get here and they did," said Muhl. "It's not going to be easy, because they play very well here. I'm telling you, it's going to be packed.

"They had a large crowd today and the gym was full, so I can't imagine at 8 o'clock how many people will crawl out from under the rocks."

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Kirkwood - Womens Basketball

KCC gets No. 2 seed for national tourney

Defending national champion Kirkwood was seeded second for the 16-team national tournament in pairings released Tuesday morning by the NJCAA.

Coach Kim Muhl's second-ranked Eagles (31-3) meet No. 15 seed Gogebic Community College (17-13) out of Ironwood, Mich. at 3 p.m. next Tuesday in the first round at Pioneer Pavillion in Harrison, Ark.

A win in the opener would move Kirkwood into the quarterfinals at 8 p.m. on Wednesday against the North Arkansas/Bryant & Stratton, Wisc. winner.

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Kirkwood - Womens Basketball

KCC women heading back to nationals

Awal Ajak had to sit and watch her Kirkwood teammates win the national title last year after suffering a torn ACL late in the season, but now she's got a chance to finish her junior college career in style.

Arika Wooldridge nearly quit basketball last year after one unhappy season at Winona State, but now she has a chance to help Kirkwood climb to top of the junior colleges again.

So do all the happy Eagles, who are extremely excited about their opportunity to win back-to-back titles.

The second-ranked Eagles rallied for a 65-52 victory over 12th-ranked NIACC in the regional finals Sunday at Johnson Hall to earn a trip to the NJCAA Division II national tournament March 20-24 in Harrison, Ark.

"I'm extremely happy right now," said Ajak, a sophomore from Des Moines who contributed 10 points Sunday. "Even though I didn't make it last year, I was still happy to be on a team that wanted to make it happen and wanted to win the national title.

"I'm extremely overwhelmed with emotion right now. It was a lot of pain, but it paid off."

Wooldridge, who attended high school at Center Point-Urbana, got hurt near the beginning of the season at Winona State last year and did not like being so far away from home in Minnesota. She thought seriously about quitting the game, but Kirkwood Coach Kim Muhl convinced her to give it another shot and play closer to home and family.

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