ROCKFORD - It wasn't particularly pretty, but Rock Valley College won the first NJCAA Division III women's tournament game played in Rockford, 64-59, to advance to tonight's semifinal at 6 p.m.


The Golden Eagles struggled from the field, hitting just 25 of 70 shots, and even more so at the line, making just 10 of 23 free throws against Rowan-Gloucester of New Jersey.

The missed free throws gave the New Jersey school several opportunities to tie or take the lead in the fourth quarter, but the Roadrunners were even colder, hitting just 21 of 82.

Kalea Kruser, a freshman forward from Madison, Wisconsin, was the most effective. Kruser scored 17 points and grabbed 14 rebounds even though she is recovering from a shoulder injury. Emily Cox from Erie and Maddie Hecox from Rockford East chipped in 14 each.

A crowd of about 300 watched the RVC game, which kicked off the national championship tournament, which the school is hosting for the first time. RVC is the defending national champion and has won the tournament four times under coach Misty Opat.

The Golden Eagles play Northland of East Grand Forks, Minnesota, at 6 p.m. tonight. The Pioneers will have a decided size advantage.They have two players who are 6-1, including freshman Brooke Heggie, who came off the bench to hit 11 of 13 shots and grab 15 rebounds in Northland's 76-58 win over Montgomery Thursday night.

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