Hale’s bucket seals CMU’s first win at NAIA national tournament

March 16, 2017

NeNe Hale basketball

NeNe Hale

NeNe Hale of Anchorage scored the go-ahead basket with just 18 seconds remaining to give Central Methodist University its first-ever win in the NAIA national tournament

Hale iced the victory with a pair of free throws to close out a 52-49 victory over a 23-win Biola team during the first round of the Cramer Bracket in Billings, Montana.

Hale, of Houston High fame, led all scorers with 13 points to go with six rebounds in 35 minutes.

She had six of her team’s seven points in the fourth quarter.

In fact, Alaskans Hale and Jerica Nelson of Kodiak produced every point in the fourth [Nelson added a free throw] and amassed 19 of the team’s 52 points.

Hale is a junior All-American and the team’s leading scorer. Last year she led Central Methodist to the national tournament and scored 24 points in the first round, but the Eagles lost.

She wasn’t having it this year.

When Central Methodist trailed 49-48 with 22 seconds left, the Eagles put the ball in her hands and she went to work off the dribble.

“I thought our kids fought really hard. To get behind at the very end and come back and, of course, DaJonee Hale made the big basket to put us ahead. Then we guarded the basket the way we wanted and got the victory,” coach Mike Davis said in the postgame press conference.
The play was always for Hale.

“We ran a set where the ball was going to come in to Lexie Moe and she would hand off to NeNe. But they defended that, but NeNe has a lot of ability and she made the tough basket and then we secured the win on defense.”

Nelson, of Kodiak High fame, added seven assists and six steals in 36 minutes.

Central Methodist [24-9] and advanced to the second round and will face Lindsey Wilson [31-2] on Friday.