Tommie women reach milestone NCAA playoff win

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A 29-9 edge in bench points and six players scoring in double figures helped No. 6-ranked St. Thomas Women's Basketball pull away for a 81-51 victory over Chapman in Friday night's NCAA playoff game at Schoenecker Arena in St. Paul.

The Tommies (26-2), who never trailed, had only eight turnovers on the night against steady full-court pressure as they won their 19th in a row this season and their 50th all-time NCAA playoff game. UST is 50-24 in 25 NCAA tournament appearances, including an 18-6 record this decade, all in the last seven seasons.

Coach Ruth Sinn's squad helped hold Chapman to a season-low scoring night, 31-percent shooting from the floor, and only 22 second-half points. St. Thomas converted 52 percent from the floor and 12-of-12 at the foul line.

UST stormed to a 39-21 second-quarter lead before Chapman closed the last 4:30 of the half on an 8-2 run to cut the halftime deficit to 41-29. But the host team used a 17-7 run to push the lead to 58-36, and Chapman never got closer than 19 points thereafter.

The Tommies' Hannah Spaulding returned after a two-game injury absence. The conference Player of the Year had 10 points -- all in the first half -- and addded six boards as she surpassed 500 points on the season in 26 games. Senior Lauren Fischer led with 12 points, while Lucia Renikoff had 10 points, six rebounds and five assists. Maddie Wolkow scored eight of her 11 points in the second half, while freshman Kaia Porter scored 10 off the bench, all in the final two quarters. Freshman guard Madi Radtke matched her college high with 10 points, and Kaylie Brazil added nine.

Chapman (Calif.) (23-5), which had won 17 of its previous 18 games, was led by Lucy Criswell with 14 points and eight rebounds, and Jaime Hum-Nishikado with 13 points.

St. Thomas improved to 7-1 this season against 20-win teams and will get another 20-win foe on Saturday (7 p.m.) in No. 9-ranked Chicago. That's a rematch of a March 2017 second-round game on the Tommies' floor.

The Maroons won 70-46 in the earlier game over Wisconsin Lutheran to extend their season win streak to 23. They helped force 24 WLC turnovers, recorded a 21-6 scoring advantage from behind the arc, and used Miranda Burt's team-best 18 points. Jen Dowden scored a game-high 21 points for Wisconsin Lutheran (24-3), which lost a key player to injury in practice this week and lost another starter to injury in the first half.

Saturday night's winner advances to the Sweet Sixteen round March 9-10.