HARRISON, Ark. - Kirkwood's quest for the national title and a perfect season is one step away.
Olivia Usher and Deleyah Harris popped in 17 points apiece Friday night as the top-ranked Eagles punished fourth-ranked Kankakee, 76-49, in the semifinals of the NJCAA Division II national tournament at Pioneer Pavilion.
Kirkwood (36-0) will face third-ranked Johnson County (33-2) in the championship game Saturday night at 7:30.
The Eagles survived a big scare in the quarterfinals Thursday against Cincinnati State, needing a late rally to escape with a 65-63 victory, but there was little suspense Friday.
Usher, a freshman from Cedar Rapids Prairie who averages 6.3 points, scored 12 points in the first half to help Kirkwood grab a commanding 40-21 lead at intermission and the Eagles took it home from there.
It took Usher only five seconds to score her first basket after Kirkwood controlled the opening tip. She finished with three 3-pointers in the game and had three assists.
The Eagles were sitting on a slim 19-17 lead early in the second quarter when they took control with a 16-0 run for a 35-17 bulge. Niaja Taylor got the spurt started with a follow shot, then Usher tallied inside and hit a 3-pointer to make it 26-17.