The Division II women’s basketball season is just about in the books. Just a few games remain before conference tournaments begin the NCAA postseason gets underway.
Keep your eyes on these DII post players whose dominance down low could propel their teams far in the NCAA tournament this March.
1. Marissa Brown, West Liberty
The Mountain East is stacked with Glenville State, Charleston (WV), and Concord all legitimate NCAA tournament contenders. If the Hilltoppers are going to make it to the postseason, it will be on the string play of Brown. West Liberty has won eight in a row, including one each against Concord and Charleston, and Brown has been on fire. The 6-3 senior has posted five straight double-doubles in the month of February and leads the MEC in both points and rebounds per game.
2. Jessica Kelliher, Lewis
Kelliher has been one of the best in DII women’s basketball down low since she stepped foot on the Romeoville, Illinois campus. The Flyers have made it to the Midwest Regional in each of her three seasons and look on pace to make it back one last time in the senior's career. Kelliher leads the team in nearly every major category, shooting 66.3 percent from the floor while scoring 25.0 points with 9.6 rebounds per game. Her presence in the paint has helped Lewis allow just 58.6 points a night. She’s been on absolute fire of late, going for 42 points and 17 rebounds against Maryville. Between her and Morgan Glatczak swatting shots and controlling the boards, it's a wonder anybody scores.
3. Cassidy Boensch, Grand Valley State
The 6-4 junior center is leading the Lakers to the top of the GLIAC behind a breakout season. Already known for her defensive presence, Boensch is leading her conference in points per game (20.4), rebounds per game (12.3), and blocks per game (3.3). Grand Valley State allows just 53.0 points per night and it’s in large part thanks to Boensch's presence down low. She’s played huge in the Lakers two biggest wins of the season — both against Ashland — combining for 50 points, 29 rebounds, and nine blocks in the two games.
4. Shanika Peterkin, Barton
Barton is streaking, winners of seven in a row and in first place in Conference Carolinas. While Peterkin doesn’t necessarily help the top-scoring offense in the CC with high scores every night, she is key to its top scoring defense that allows just over 61 points per night. Peterkin leads the conference in both rebounding (11.1 per game) and blocks (3.7 per game). The frightening part for opposing teams is she seems to be getting comfortable shooting again. After scoring in double-digits just twice in eight January games, she’s averaging 13.0 per game in February when it matters most.
5. Sara Loomis, Ashland
Junior forward Sara Loomis is the Week 10 GLIAC South Division Player of the Week - her second such award of the season! 😤— Ashland University Eagles (@goashlandeagles) January 21, 2019
In two home wins last week, Loomis did all this:
- Scored 3⃣9⃣ pts
- Grabbed 2⃣4⃣ rebs
- Blocked 1⃣4⃣ shots
- 6⃣5⃣,2⃣ FG%
- 8⃣8⃣.9⃣ FT% pic.twitter.com/2k8aFFAGHF
The Eagles had a big void to fill with the loss of Andi Daugherty and Laina Snyder to graduation. Loomis has transitioned from key reserve to dominant starter without missing a beat, breaking out in a big way for Ashland. The 6-2 junior is averaging a double-double, going for 15.5 points and 10.0 rebounds a game, while stuffing the paint with 3.0 blocks per night. We know Ashland is as postseason experienced as any team in the field. The emergence of Loomis makes them a threat for the Elite Eight once again.
6. Hailey Diestelkamp, Drury
It's more like Diesel-kamp as the 5-11 junior forward controls the paint for undefeated Drury. Long praised by head coach Molly Miller for her athleticism and defense-first style of play, Diestelkamp is breaking out as an offensive force this season, averaging 20.9 points per game. There are plenty of reasons Drury is the No. 1 team in the country, but having Diestelkamp around the rim may be the biggest.
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7. UC San Diego's twin towers
Let's turn our attention to the other undefeated team in DII women's basketball. Picture if you will, driving the lane and there's not one, but two 6-1, athletic forwards waiting to greet you. That's what the Tritons offer in a pair of post players both averaging double-doubles on the season. Mikayla Williams is averaging 19.9 points and 10.6 rebounds per game and Haleigh Hatfield is going for 10.7 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. Throw in a combined 56 blocks and the Tritons are a dominating force down low.