KINGSPORT, Tenn. - Fourth-seeded Milligan took the lead a minute into the game and never looked back as the Buffaloes knocked off No. 1 seed Tennessee Wesleyan 61-55 on Friday in the semifinals of the Appalachian Athletic Conference Women's Basketball Tournament.
With the win, Milligan (18-12 overall) advances to the championship game to face No. 2 seed Union, which defeated Bryan 63-45 in the other semifinal game. Game time is set for 4 p.m.
The loss snaps Tennessee Wesleyan's 18-game win streak. The Lady Bulldogs had not lost since Dec. 10 as they are now 24-4. Tennessee Wesleyan's season is not over. As the regular-season champion, it receives an automatic bid to the NAIA National Championship Tournament.
Tennessee Wesleyan scored the game's opening points with a 3-pointer from Cody Houck, but Milligan took the lead for good when Hayley Wyrick buried a 3-pointer at the 8:52 mark to for a 6-3 lead. The score was close for a while in the first half, but a 24-7 run opened up a 40-20 cushion for the Buffaloes, who took a 43-25 lead into the break.
Things looked as if they were going to change in the second half as Milligan's offense struggled while Tennessee Wesleyan kept battling. After chipping away at the deficit all period, the Lady Bulldogs pulled within 54-51 with 3:09 to play when Armeka Booker hit a pair of free throws. Milligan responded with a 5-0 spurt for a 59-51 edge.
Tennessee Wesleyan got the deficit back down to four, but Milligan held on for the 61-55 victory.
Kayla Kelly paced Milligan with 20 points, while Wyrick and Allison Jones added 13 and 12 points, respectively.
Booker posted a double-double with 16 points and 14 rebounds, while Houck helped out with 15 points and 12 boards.
Tennessee Wesleyan dominated the glass, outrebounding Milligan 50-35. However, the Lady Bulldogs shot 28.8 percent (19-of-66 shots) from the floor. Milligan made 38.9 percent (21-of-54) of its shots.