NAIA Women’s Basketball First and Second Round: Who’s in Salina? A look at the teams

Four teams from around the NAIA descend on Salina for the First and Second Rounds of the NAIA Women’s Basketball National Championship beginning on Friday at Mabee Arena.Games start at Noon as No. 4 seed Mayville State plays No. 13 seed Freed-Hardeman. No. 5 seed LSU-Shreveport plays No. 12 seed Tabor at 2 p.m.Friday’s winners will play at 3 p.m. on Saturday for a trip to Sioux City, Iowa and the Tyson Events Center for the NAIA Women’s Basketball National Championship beginning March 21.Here’s a look at the teams playing in Salina this weekend:TABOR BLUEJAYSLocation: Hillsboro, KansasConference: Kansas Collegiate AthleticCoach: Shawn Reed (13th season)Record: 27-4, 21-1 conference (first place)Conference tournament: Defeated Saint Mary 72-71 in overtime in the championshipNAIA First Round seed: 12thNAIA First Round opponent: Louisiana State-Shreveport (29-2)BLUEJAYS AT A GLANCE

  • Any discussions about Tabor starts with defense. The Bluejays do it well and have since Reed arrived. Opponents average 54.7 points which ranks ninth in the NAIA and shoot 38 percent, 26.5 percent from long range. They held the opposition to 50 points or fewer 13 times this season. Offensively they average 68 points and shoot 45 percent, 37 percent from the 3-point line.
  • Senior forward Alyvia Owens leads a balanced scoring attack with an 11.5 average but is the only Bluejays with a double-figure average. She scored 23 in the KCAC Tournament championship and was a First Team All-KCAC choice. Senior guard Kassidy Beam averages 8.2 and freshman guard Lillie Veer 8.0. Junior guard Maddie McCoy was Third Team All-Choice selection.
  • Tabor enters the tournament on a 15-game winning streak. The Bluejays dominated the KCAC during the regular season losing only to Bethany 66-61 on January 13.

LOUISIANA STATE-SHREVEPORT PILOTSLocation: Shreveport, LouisianaConference: Red River AthleticCoach: Kyle Blankenship (first season)Record: 29-2, 22-0 conference (first place)Conference tournament: Defeated Xavier 66-55 in the championshipNAIA First Round seed: FifthNAIA First Round opponent: Tabor (27-4)PILOTS AT A GLANCE

  • Blankenship will be a busy man this weekend but it’s nothing new. He also coaches the LSU-S men’s team that plays Kansas Wesleyan in the first round Friday. Blankenship took over the women’s team in October when the previous coach resigned. No problem, the Pilots have won 27 in a row and are ranked 24th in the NAIA. Blankenship’s two teams have won a combined 51 games this season.
  • Senior center Destanee Roblow is the top scorer (12.0) and rebounder (8.3) and was named First-Team All-RRAC for the second year in a row. Senior forward Tyquanna Ross averages 10.8 points, was a Second Team All-RRAC choice and the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year.
  • LSU-S averages 81 points, allows just 57 and shoots 45 percent overall, 31 percent from long distance and 67 percent from the free throw line. The Pilots outrebound their opponents by a whopping nine per game and average 16 turnovers.

MAYVILLE STATE COMETSLocation: Mayville, North DakotaConference: North Star Athletic AssociationCoach: Dennis Hutter (17th season)Record: 24-3, 11-1 conference (tied for first place)Conference tournament: Defeated Dakota State 61-59 in the championship gameNAIA First Round seed: FourthNAIA First Round opponent: Freed-Hardman (19-10)COMETS AT A GLANCE

  • Mayville State enters the tournament ranked 12th in the NAIA and has won its last nine and 18 of 19. Dakota State, which the Comets beat in the conference tournament title game, was the last team to defeat, MSU 71-48 January 26. Mayville State and Dakota State tied for first in the final regular season standings.
  • Senior guard Jordan Zrust averages a team-best 20.8 points and 8.9 rebounds. She had 29 points and 10 rebounds in the NSAA tournament title game. She was the conference Player of the Year, was named First Team all-conference and was on the All-Defensive Team. Junior guard MacKenzie Hughes averages 15.1 points and was also an All-NSAA First Team selection. Senior guard Jes Mertens averages 10.0 points.
  • The Comets average nearly 79 points and allow just 57. Opponents shoot 36.5 percent overall and just 27 percent beyond the 3-point arc. Mayville State shoots 44.7 percent and 35.6 percent from long distance. The Comets average 13.7 turnovers and are being outrebounded by three per game.

FREED-HARDEMAN LIONSLocation: Henderson, TennesseeConference: Mid-SouthCoach: Joshua Epperson (fourth season)Record: 19-10, 5-7 conference (fifth place)Conference tournament: Lost to Lindsey Wilson 73-69 in the quarterfinalsNAIA First Round seed: 13thNAIA First Round opponent: Mayville State (24-3)LIONS AT A GLANCE

  • The Lions bring a six-game losing streak to Salina including back-to-back losses to Lindsey Wilson in the regular season finale and then the conference tournament. They had won seven of nine before the skid began.
  • Sophomore guard Rachel Satterly was named First Team All-Mid-South and is averaging 12.4 points. Sophomore forward Kaylee Odom averages a team-best 11.3 and had a game-high 24 on 8 of 11 shooting in against Lindsay Wilson in the tournament quarterfinals. Senior guard KJ White averages 8.0 points and 5.0 rebounds and was the conference Defensive Player of the Year.
  • Freed-Hardeman averages 63 points but is terrific on the defensive end allowing only 51 per game. Opponents shoot 35 percent, 29 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. The Lions shoot 42.5 percent, 32.7 from deep and 62 percent from the foul line. They outrebound their opponents by 3.4 per game and average 12.7 turnovers.