Bulldogs Defeated By No. 1 Seed Thomas More In NAIA Quarterfinals
SIOUX CITY, IOWA - The Montana Western Women’s Basketball team fell 66-62 in tonight’s
matchup with the No. 3 ranked and No. 1 seeded Thomas More (Ky.). The Bulldogs finish the season 28-6.
“Certainly not the result that we wanted. We were sluggish from the start in the first five minutes. I thought once we settled in, we defended pretty well the rest of the game. Ultimately, we did not make enough shots in the first half. When you are chasing a team that is as good as Thomas More, you need to capitalize when you can. Proud of everything that our seniors gave to this program the last few years.” Head Coach Lindsay Woolley said after the game.
How It Happened
Montana Western struggled to get going early in the first quarter as Thomas More (Ky.) used the three-point ball to go on an early 13-4 run.
Shainy Mack knocked down a three with a minute and a half to go, bringing the Bulldogs back
Down 19-13 at the start of the second, Mesa King connected with the basket on three straight
possessions to bring the Bulldogs back within one at 19-18. Thomas More’s Alex Smith drained back-to-back threes boosting the Saints to a 28-24 lead at the half.
In a back-and-forth second half, the lead changed hands multiple times. The Bulldogs narrowly outscored the Saints across the third 18-17, trailed three heading into the fourth.
It remained a one-possession contest most of the fourth quarter. Mack tied the game for the
Bulldogs at 45 after hitting a layup and a free throw on an and one opportunity with 8:45 left in the game.
With 3:16 left in the matchup, Brynley Fitzgerald hit a three-pointer to bring the Bulldogs within
one. The Saints continued on to take a seven-point lead with a minute left after a quick 6-0 run. Thomas More continued on to hit their free throws down the stretch to top the Bulldogs 66-62.
• Montana Western finishes their season in the NAIA National Championship
quarterfinals, their first since the 2019 championship season. They went on to outshoot
Thomas More from the floor as TMU shot 36.8 percent compared to UMW’s 44.7%.
• Both teams shot above 30% from three-point range, TMU shot 35.5 percent as UMW
shot 36.0 percent.
• The Bulldogs struggled to overcome turnovers in tonight’s matchup after they totaled 16
in the game. The Saints totaled just six and converted 17 points off of Bulldog turnovers.
• Shainy Mack led the Bulldogs with 17 points and two assists.
• Jordan Sweeney and Brynley Fitzgerald followed with 14 points each. Sweeney added
seven rebounds and three assists. Fitzgerald added six rebounds and two steals.
• Mesa King grabbed eight rebounds for the Bulldogs.
Final Season Notes
The Bulldogs finished the season with an overall record of 28-6. As a team, the Bulldogs led the conference with a 45.1 shooting percentage, 34.7 three-point percentage, 10.6 steals per game, and 72.1 points per game.
Montana Western had five individuals recognized for their achievements in the 2022-23 season.
Brynley Fitzgerald was named Co-Conference Player of the Year. Fitzgerald quickly rose to
become the second all-time leading scoring in Montana Western women's basketball history. She accumulated 1783 points as a Bulldog, leading UMW this season with an average of 18.2 points per game, 6.9 rebounds per game, and shooting 43.0 percent from the field.
Jordan Sweeney was selected Newcomer of the Year. Emily Cooley was selected Freshman of the Year. Sweeney was also named First Team All-Conference.
Mesa King was named Honorable Mention All-Conference, as well as being named to the All-Defensive Team and being selected as Montana Western Women's Basketball's Champions of Character recipient.