LA MIRADA — Illinois is of course known as the Land of Lincoln. But Olivet Nazarene, an NAIA Division II women's basketball program from Bourbannais, about 50 miles south of Chicago, would likely find three-point land a more appropriate moniker.
The Tigers, who came in ranked No. 10 in their division, launched 68 of their 101 field-goal attempts from three-point range in an 89-77 loss to Vanguard on Friday in the opening round of the Biola Holiday Classic at Biola.
Vanguard (8-0), ranked No. 3 in NAIA Division I, opted for closer looks to overcome the frenetic pace pushed by Olivet (11-2), which came in averaging nearly 103 points per contest.
The Lions passed over the top of the Tigers' full-court pressure for several easy transition buckets. Vanguard made 35 of 77 two-point attempts (45.4%), while the Tigers connected on 12 of 33 from inside the arch (36.4%). But with only 15 conversions on 68 three-point tries (22.1%), Olivet finished 26.7% from the field.
Vanguard collected the majority of those misses on its way to a 77-49 rebounding advantage that helped overcome the Tigers' 26-16 edge in the turnover department.
"I've never coached against that style of play in 35 years of coaching," said Vanguard Coach Russ Davis, who had 10 players play double-digit minutes to counter a 16-player Olivet system that regularly substituted five at a time. "That was a shootout.
"That was a huge win," said Davis, whose team made only two of 12 three-point attempts. "We didn't need to shoot threes, because we were getting layups."
Senior Esther Timmermans had 18 points and 18 rebounds to pace the winners, while junior Nicole Ballestero added 16 points.
Junior Leigha Bednar chipped in 10 points and seven rebounds off the bench, while freshman reserve Samantha Doucette had 10 points and five boards.
Senior Chelsea Alfafara had 12 rebounds to go with her seven points for the Lions.
"We rebounded like crazy and I thought our bench played great," Davis said.
After a layup pulled the Tigers within 63-60 with 13:11 left, Vanguard used a 9-0 run over the next 4:26 to put the game away.
Vanguard missed 14 of its 27 foul shots, but allowed the Tigers to get to the line only 10 times, eight of which they converted.
Vanguard meets the University of Victoria (Canada) Saturday at 5:30 p.m. to conclude the tournament and the nonconference portion of its schedule. The Lions open Golden State Athletic Conference play at home against San Diego Christian on Jan. 8 at 5:30 p.m.
"We're getting better," Davis said. "We have a chance."
Biola Holiday Classic
Vanguard 89, Olivet Nazarene 77
ON – Wilson 8, Adam 5, Geever 11, Haymes 9, Allenbaugh 5, Bart 9, Kearney 8, Tolbert 7, Peachey 6, Dier 3, James 3, Gerig 3.