The 2016 NAIA DII Women’s Basketball National Championship is quickly approaching. To help you get prepped for the week we have broken things down into some easily digestible information so that you can prove to your friends that you are an expert on the tournament.
Morningside (Iowa) makes the strenuous 10 minute trip from campus to the Tyson Events Center as they look to repeat as National Champions. The Mustangs bring back their entire starting lineup from their title game win over Concordia (Neb.) last year. Morningside is 31-2 on the season and cruised to GPAC regular season and tournament titles. Jessica Tietz leads the nation in field goal percentage (64.4%) while as a team the Mustangs shoot 47.1%, best in the NAIA. They also rank in the top 10 in the country in 11 other statistical categories. Along with their championship title last year, the Mustangs have also won it all in 2004, 2005, and 2009.
Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) has led the NAIA in scoring in 10 of the last 11 seasons. In 8 of those seasons the Tigers have averaged over 100 points per game. This year’s team should break the NAIA record as they average just under 111 points per game. Because of their fast-paced tempo they lead the country in 10 statistical categories. Abbey Hengesbach is one of the best players in the country and should get consideration for national player of the year honors. She leads her team in scoring (22.3 ppg), rebounding (5.26 rpg), assists (7.9 apg), steals (3.5 spg) and blocks (10). Not only does she lead her team in these categories, but she is tops in the country in the assists and steals categories and third in the nation in scoring. The Tigers enter the tournament with a 27-5 overall record.
Saint Xavier (Ill.) enters the tournament with a 29-3 record. The Cougars are coming off of a loss to fellow #1 seed Olivet Nazarene as they lost to the Tigers in the CCAC tournament. The Cougars lead the country in blocks with 224 blocks as a team. Caitlin McMahon has 86 blocks all by herself to lead the NAIA. Kara Krolicki sets the pace on the scoring side for Saint Xavier as she averages 20 points per game and ranks second in the country in 3-pt field goals made. Head coach Bob Hallberg is believed to be the first coach to lead both a men’s and women’s collegiate basketball team to a #1 ranking. The Cougars were ranked in the top spot for a portion of the season and Hallberg coached Chicago State University’s men’s program during the 1982-83 season where they garnered the top spot as well.
Southern Oregon enters the tournament with a 29-1 overall record with their only loss coming to Eastern Oregon midway through the season. The Raiders have the best scoring margin in the country as they beat their opponents by an average of 30 points per game. They are similar in some ways to Olivet Nazarene as they sit second in many of the statistical categories that the Tigers lead. Ashley Claussen averages 18.1 points per game, best on the team, and is fourth in the NAIA in steals. The Raiders made it to the national semifinals in 1997, but haven’t advanced past the second round in their seven appearances since then. Head Coach Alex Carlson is in his first season at Southern Oregon. Carlson played for Oregon Tech as a player and won the 2004 NAIA National Championship in men’s basketball.
Other Tournament Teams
The Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) has six teams in the tournament field. Along with #1 seeds Saint Xavier and Olivet Nazarene, CCAC schools St. Francis (Ill.), Cardinal Stritch (Wis.), St. Ambrose (Iowa) and Purdue Calumet (Ind.) have all qualified for the tournament.
The Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) also gets six teams into the tournament. #1 seed Morningside joins last year’s national semifinalists Briar Cliff (Iowa), Concordia (Neb.), and Hastings (Neb.) back in the field. Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) and Mount Marty (S.D.) also make the tournament out of the GPAC.
College of the Ozarks (Mo.) is making it NAIA-record 22nd appearance at the National Championship.
Davenport (Mich.) is making its 11th straight appearance at the tournament. The Panthers have finished as National Runner-Up twice.
Ashleigh Vandenbrink of Oregon Tech leads NAIA DII in 3-pt field goal percentage (49.4%)
Megan Klein of Dickinson State (N.D.) leads NAIA DII in total rebounds (380)
Kea Whittington of Clarke (Iowa) leads NAIA DII in steals (103)
St. Ambrose ranks #1 in NAIA DII in 3-pt field goal percentage (38.4%)