Senior Hannah Spaulding recorded 21 points, 13 rebounds and six assists and No. 2-ranked St. Thomas outlasted once-beaten Wisconsin Lutheran, 67-51, in NCAA second-round women's basketball play Saturday night at Schoenecker Arena.
The Tommies (28-1) ran their season win streak to 18 and their home victory streak to 25. They advance to the NCAA tournament's Sweet 16 round for the fifth year in a row.
St. Thomas closed the first half on a 12-0 run over the final 3:03 on the clock to build a 38-20 halftime lead. Kelsie Cox sank two treys to fuel that late burst, and Lucia Renikoff had a late steal, then banked in a jumper at the buzzer.
The Warriors (27-2) never folded. They used a 12-2 run to pull within 41-33 with 2:31 left in the third quarter. But St. Thomas Bobbbi Brendefur knocked down her only shot of the game, an open 3-pointer, to push the lead back to 11.Moments later, Sarah Krynski made her only shot of the game, also a trey, to push the lead to 14.
Wisconsin Lutheran was unable to get the deficit under 11 points the rest of the game.
Kelly Tramburg led the Warriors with 13 points; Lexi Reinke added 11 points and six boards; Maddie Cruz had nine of her 11 points in the second half. The Warriors' only lead of the night was at 3-0. They made just 3-of-14 shots behind the arc and closed at 42 percent on the night.
The Tommies will learn Sunday if they will host the Sweet 16 round March 8-9 at Schoenecker Arena, but whoever hosts will have four top-13 ranked teams in a blockbuster weekend. Next Friday, once-beaten St. Thomas will play No. 6-ranked Amherst (25-3), while No. 11-ranked Wartburg (26-3) faces No. 13-ranked UW-Oshkosh (26-3).