Is studying for mid-term exams getting in the way of studying up for the National Championship? If so, we have the solution for you. It’s your very own study guide for the 2015 NAIA DII Women’s National Basketball Championship.
Morningside (Iowa) enters the tournament as the top-ranked team in the country with a 32-1 record. The Mustangs went through Great Plains Athletic Conference play undefeated at 20-0. The last time a GPAC school did that was in 2010-11 when Northwestern accomplished the feat en route to a National Championship, which bodes well for the Mustangs. However, the GPAC regular-season champions enter the tournament coming off of their only loss of the season, an 80-72 defeat at the hands of Concordia (Neb.) in the GPAC Championship Game. This loss snapped a school-record 39 game home winning streak. The Mustangs look to add to their trophy collection as Morningside tries to capture its 4th National Championship. Morningside last won in 2009.
Davenport (Mich.) is the last team without a blemish on its record as the Panthers enter the tournament with a perfect 31-0 record. The Panthers completely obliterated their competition this season, beating their opponents by an average of nearly 33 points per game, which was best in the NAIA. Davenport also holds their opponents to an NAIA-best 48 points per game. The Panthers are in the Top Ten of 15 different statistical categories including field goal percentage, steals, assists, rebounds and scoring offense per game. Davenport has made the title game twice, in 2011 and 2013, but they have yet to take home the title as they fell to Northwestern (Iowa) and Indiana Wesleyan in those years.
Concordia (Neb.) earns a 1-seed as they handed Morningside their only loss of the season in the GPAC Championship Game. This comes after falling to the Mustangs twice in the regular season. The Bulldogs come into the tournament with a 31-2 overall record. Concordia is led by back-to-back GPAC Player-of-the-Year Bailey Morris who ranks 2nd in the NAIA in steals (128) and 5th in assists (159). Morris paces a team that ranks 2nd in the NAIA in overall steals (556) and 4th in scoring offense per game (84.6), contributing 18.6 points per game herself. The Bulldogs hope to avoid another 1st round meltdown as Concordia is just 8-5 all-time in the 1st round, including being bounced by lower seeds Cardinal Stritch (Wis.) and Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) the past two years in opening round action.
Saint Xavier (Ill.) rounds out the 1-seeds. The Cougars enter the tournament with a 29-3 overall record and swept through the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference regular season with an 18-0 mark. Their only loss to a conference team came in the CCAC Championship game where the Cougars fell to Cardinal Stritch. The only other losses came in non-conference play to fellow 1-seeds Concordia and Morningside. Saint Xavier is led by three-time CCAC Player-of-the-Year Morgan Stuut who is 2nd in the NAIA in rebounding with an average of 12.5 boards per contest. The Cougars are 1st in the NAIA in both total assists (695) and total blocks (219).
Other Tournament Teams
Defending champion Saint Francis (Ind.) enters the tournament as a 3 seed. The Cougars open up against 6-seed Southwestern (Kan.), a team the Cougars beat 76-61 in last years’ quarterfinals en route to capping off an undefeated championship season.
Along with Saint Francis, Indiana Wesleyan is the only other non-GPAC school to take home a National Championship since 2001, accomplishing the feat twice, in 2007 and 2013.
The Crossroads League, which has won the past two championships, ties the GPAC for most teams at the tournament as Indiana Wesleyan, Marian (Ind.), Saint Francis and Huntington (Ind.) all make the trip to Sioux City.
The GPAC’s dominance may finally be waning as the conference hasn’t placed a team in the title game the past two seasons. However, the conference does boast 4 schools making the tournament as Hastings (Neb.) and hometown school Briar Cliff (Iowa) join 1-seeds Morningside and Concordia.
College of the Ozarks (Mo.) hopes to capitalize on their NAIA-most 21 appearances at the National Championship. The Bobcats have finished as runner-up 5 times (2006, 2007, 2008, 2012 and 2014), but have found the title to be elusive, with no national titles to date.
Five schools are making their debut at this year’s National Championship as Asbury (Ky.), Clarke (Iowa), UC-Merced (Calif.), Robert Morris (Ill.) and Southeastern (Fla.) all earned bids to the tournament.
Tennessee Wesleyan holds teams to an NAIA-best field goal percentage (32.1%)
Alyssa Ramos of Southeastern (Fla.) leads the NAIA in 3-pt FG made (123)
Indiana Wesleyan leads the NAIA in 3-pt FG% (38.9%)
Huntington (Ind.) ranks first as a team in free throw percentage (81.7%)
Dannisha Pierce of St. Thomas (Fla.) leads the NAIA in steals (144)
Southern Oregon leads the NAIA in defensive rebounds per game (34.8)
Marian (Ind.) leads the NAIA in field goal percentage (47.7%)