SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — California Baptist came into Tuesday’s quarterfinal matchup with No. 23 New Haven as the only unranked team left competing. Some people might have thought it was a fluke the Lancers made it out of the West Region, but CBU used it as motivation and showed from the start that it deserved to be there.
“I just think it really fires us up that everyone thinks that it was luck that we got here,” sophomore guard Courtney Nelson said.
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The Lancers came out and defeated their second ranked opponent of the year 86-77 to improve to 28-6 and keep the Cinderella story going. The Chargers end their season 26-6 with the loss.
“I’m really proud of the way the girls played,” head coach Jarrod Olson said. “We had some kids really step up and make some big plays down the stretch. We also got a lot of easy baskets in the second half just from running the floor, which I think was probably the difference in the game. I don’t think we shot that well until the second half, but most of that was because we were able to get the ball down low.”
Darsha Burnside had a monster night at the post for the Lancers ending with her 23rd double-double of the year with 27 points (10-for-19) and 16 rebounds. She also blocked five shots to move to 109 on the season, just nine away from setting a new program record for most blocks in a single season.
“We came this far [not to lose] and I just really wanted it,” Burnside said of her performance. “My teammates did a nice job of getting me the ball and I believe in myself. I was just feeling it.”
Three other Lancers finished with double figures as Nelson posted 19 points, Cassidy Mihalko grabbed 14 points and Kamille Diaz ended with 12 points. Nelson was just two rebounds shy of a double-double with eight boards on the night.
“I just go out and play my hardest,” said Nelson. “Whatever happens, happens. Our team is so close that we just rely on each other. I trust my teammates where if I’m not doing well, it’s not a big deal. I guess that lowers the nerves for me because I trust my team so much.”