The No. 15-ranked Coyotes (25-6) are the fourth seed in the Naismith Bracket and play No. 17 Mayville State, N.D. (25-5) in the opening round of the NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Championship. Game time is 8:30 a.m. inside the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa.
KWU’s the fourth seed and Mayville State the No. 5 seed in the Naismith Bracket. Seedings and the 32-team bracket were unveiled by the NAIA on Tuesday night.
The winner of the single-elimination event advances to the second round and a game against either Concordia, Neb. – the tournament’s top overall seed – or eighth-seeded Wilberforce, Ohio, at noon on Friday, March 13.
“I can’t even imagine what time we’re going to have to get up to get ready,” forward Amanda Hill (JR/Rossville, Kan.) said, with a smile. “We’re maybe going to have to do some early practices to get ready for that.”
KWU qualified for the national tournament for the second year in a row by winning the Kansas Conference’s regular-season championship. The Coyotes received an at-large bid to last year’s tournament, but lost to College of the Ozarks 91-51 in the first round.
Coach Ryan Showman said the loss was motivation for this year’s team.
“It’s been on our minds and heavy on our hearts for a long time,” he said. “That was kind of the theme going into this year. We want to make it back to the national tournament and we want to have a better showing, we want to go put ourselves in position to go get that first win. We didn’t do that last year and I know that motivates the girls every day they step on the floor.”
“Last year we came in and we were young, we hadn’t been there before and felt a little in over our heads,” Hill said. “This year we’re a little more experienced and I think we’re excited to see what we can do.”
The Coyotes haven’t played since losing to Oklahoma Wesleyan in the quarterfinals of the Kansas Conference Tournament last Wednesday. The time off has been beneficial, though.
“The loss was tough, it really was,” Hill said. “But just getting a chance to recuperate and make a run at nationals, I think it was for the best.”
“We got back first day of practice (Tuesday) and I thought it was good,” Showman said. “There was a sense of urgency about what we were doing and that gets me real excited moving forward.”
Mayville State won the North Star Athletic Association title for the second year in a row, compiling an 11-3 conference record. The Comets also won the NSAA postseason tournament, defeating Viterbo (Wis.) 74-70 in the championship game, and enter the national tournament on a five-game winning streak.
“As far as personnel or anything like that, I don’t know,” Showman said Tuesday night, “but that’s going to change here real quick.”
Showman said the message to his team going forward is to relish the experience.
“We’re one of 32 teams that are still playing, so we have to enjoy where we’re at,” he said. “It’s a celebration, of sorts, of what you’ve accomplished over a 31-game season, but at the same time take advantage of it because these opportunities don’t come along often. It’s so hard to get to the national tournament.”
Two other KCAC teams also made the tournament field. Sterling received an at-large bid and plays St. Francis (Ind.) in the first round of the Cramer Bracket at 5:15 p.m., March 12. Avila, the conference tournament champion, plays St. Xavier (Ill.) in the first round of the Duer Bracket at noon, March 12.