Westminster (27-3) played host to the tournament's championship game for the fourth time in the last five seasons, but had gone winless in the previous three chances. Westminster clinched an automatic invite into the NAIA national championship tournament with the conference title. The 32-team bracket for the 33rd annual NAIA Division I Women's Basketball National Championship will be unveiled on March 6.
In the second half of Monday night's game, the Griffins came out determined to make school history.
They scored 14 of the first 19 points of the second half with five different players scoring during the stretch. Bailey Snelling made the ninth 3-pointer of the night for Carroll with 10:44 to play to cut the Griffin lead to five. That would be the last basket scored by Carroll for the next 7:44 of the game and the Griffins put a 10-3 run on during that time to secure the victory.
"That was a great second half," said Westminster coach Shelley Jarrard. "We held them to 17 points and really played the defense we wanted."
The Griffins outscored Carroll 33-17 in the second half while holding the Saints to just 2-of-8 from beyond the arc after halftime. Westminster shot 44.4 percent from the floor in the game and were 6-of-14 (42.9 percent) from beyond the arc. They came up with 17 assists on 24 made field goals with only six turnovers. Westminster also controlled the boards 31-27 and they finished with 18 points from the 20 Carroll miscues.
Nicole Yazzie wasn't going to let this chance at a title get away as she scored 18 points on a night she shot 8-of-15 from the floor. The senior added two assists and two steals to her line in the last game she will ever play in the Behnken Field House. Fellow senior Allie Eastman had a historic night as her 12 points moved her over the 1,000-point plateau for her career, making her the seventh player in school history to achieve the feat.
"Nicole Yazzie really made some big shots tonight," said Jarrard. "Her play in the second half was really a key for us tonight."
"Words cannot explain how great this feels right now," added an emotional Yazzie said after the win. "We have been working towards this and it feels great to reach our goal my senior season."