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Women's Basketball - Sat, Mar. 11, 2017
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SIOUX CITY, Iowa - With a dominant second half, the Marian women's basketball team handed the Southeastern Fire an 81-67 loss, its first loss of the season, and advanced to the NAIA National Championship semifinals Monday night. The Knights are 33-3 overall and have won 21 games in a row.

The game got off to a slow start for both teams as turnovers and cold shooting plagued the first quarter. Southeastern got off to a 6-0 lead, but turned the ball over eight times in the quarter, which allowed the Knights to crawl back into the game. Marian shot poorly, 4-for-14 from the field, and found themselves having to run different offense than the second round matchup against IU-East. 

Because of Southeastern's length, Marian was forced to shoot outside shots and was 1-for-6 from 3-point land in the first quarter. Five of Marian's first six shots were threes and Marian also turned the ball over four times. Southeastern led 13-12 after the first ten minutes.

In the second quarter, both teams settled in and the offense picked up. Southeastern outscored Marian 26-24 in the quarter and Marian drilled six 3-pointers. Southeastern did a better job of taking care of the basketball and committed only one turnover in the second. The Fire's backcourt pair of Ana Richter and Alyssa Ramos combined to shoot 9-of-10 from the field and posted 22 points. Kellie Kirkhoff led the Knights with 14 points, while Jessica Almeida struggled from the field, shooting 0-for-6 with zero points.

After the halftime break, it was all Marian as the Knights started the third quarter on a 13-2 run with 3-pointers from three different players. The hot shooting continued through the quarter and Marian carried a 14-point lead into the fourth. Almeida found her shot in the third, which aided the Knights and Marian hounded Southeastern into 4-of-16 shooting.

The Knights' lead stretched to as much as 18 in the fourth quarter and Marian never let Southeastern entertain the idea of a rally as the Fire never came closer than 12 points. Joana Soeiro, normally the chief distributor, was perfect from the field, finishing with a game-high 24 points on 8-of-8 shooting from the field and 4-of-4 shooting from the free throw line. Soeiro also grabbed seven rebounds and dished out five assists. Kirkhoff added 21 points and Ana Kirby scored 12 points. 

The Knights shot 46 percent from the field and, after being outrebounded by eight in the first half, only lost the rebounding battle by one, 33-32. The score was tied five times and the lead changed three times, but Marian did not trail for the final 17 minutes of the game.

Marian will face St. Francis (Ill.) in the semifinals Monday night at 7 p.m. ET. Your online source for Marian Athletics, tickets, multimedia, Knight merchandise, photos and more.