“That’s a great stat, and that makes me happier yet,” Kruger said. “We’ve had games where we haven’t taken good care of the ball, but I thought the key was how we defended; we had very few busts. They had to really work for the baskets they got.”
To start the second half, Ashford opened with a 12-3 run, adding to what became the game’s largest margin of 18 points at the 14:45 mark.
During that run, Wagner made a big hustle play on defense that included her diving into the scorer’s table near midcourt and ended with an and-one opportunity for Sarah Vozel.
“That was huge for us,” Wagner said. “Honestly, I caught on to what (Northwest)’s offense was doing the whole game, so I grabbed the ball and threw it to the closest white jersey.”
Vozel did not make the layup, but thanked her guard later by passing the ball to Wagner for a 3-pointer.
The closest the RedHawks came to the Saints was eight points twice, both coming with less than five minutes remaining.
Kruger reminded his team even four weeks ago that these two weekend games were important, and the girls received the message loud and clear.
“Deep down we knew we could get to nationals, and coach told us to walk the walk instead of talk the talk and we did tonight,” Wagner said. “It’s an awesome feeling right now.”
Wagner led the Saints with 22 points, half of which came from the free-throw line. Wagner was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player following the game. Junior Quinn Rear was named to the all-tournament team. Rear scored 12 points and had five rebounds in Saturday’s win.
As a team, the Saints shot 17-of -from the free-throw line, while the Redhawks were 8-for-11.