Just eight teams remain in the hunt for the 2019 DII women’s basketball championship. The Elite Eight head to Columbus, Ohio to see who can survive three more games and become the new national champion.
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One No. 1, two No. 2s, two No. 3s, one No. 4, and two No. 7s. Four first-time national quarterfinalists. If that's the Elite Eight field you saw coming, you are a DII women's basketball wizard. With so much unpredictability in the first three rounds, one could imagine that this is a wide open field. Let's take a look at one interesting fact about each team remaining in the DII women's Elite Eight.
Indiana, Pa (No. 3 seed, Atlantic Region): Last season, the Crimson Hawks entered the 2019 DII women’s Elite Eight with a 29-3 record, coming out of the Atlantic Region as the No. 3 seed. This season, it’s déjà vu all over again. Indiana (Pa) is 29-3, winners of the Atlantic Region as the No. 3 seed, and ready for an Elite Eight battle. That’s just plain old consistency right there.
Southwestern Oklahoma State (No. 2 seed, Central Region): Sure, it’s cool that SWOSU is making its first Elite Eight appearance, but let’s look at how the Bulldogs got here. They’ve won 33-straight games and in doing so, have avenged their last two losses in the NCAA tournament, downing Emporia State 71-65, and then winning the Central Region by ousting Fort Hays State — who ended SWOSU’s 2018 tournament run — 88-77.
Saint Anselm (No. 7 seed, East Region): Another team making its Elite Eight debut is the Hawks. One of two seven seeds to advance, the Hawks upset Le Moyne to win the East. Junior forward Shannon Ryan is enjoying yet another fine season. One year after posting the second-most points in a single season for the Hawks (532), she surpassed herself, currently with 574 and counting. The Hawks are rewriting the women's record books in every sport this year, as the softball team became the first Saint Anselm team in school history to earn a No. 1 ranking in any sport.
Stop us if you have heard this recently... FOR THE FIRST TIME IN @SaintAnselm HISTORY...@STAHawksWBB is the @NCAADII East Region Champion! Hawks become the first No. 7 seed to win the regional! On to Columbus and the #EliteEight! #MarchMadness #HawksSoarHigher #NE10EMBRACE pic.twitter.com/t6U2ERjfod— Saint Anselm Hawks (@STAHawks) March 19, 2019
Drury (No. 1 seed, Midwest Region): What’s not cool about Drury? Head coach Molly Miller has just 16 career losses in five seasons and is finally getting to make her trip to the Elite Eight. But perhaps the coolest storyline in DII basketball is how Drury’s starting point guard Daejah Bernard and her brother Diego (Northwest Missouri State) are both undefeated this season and in their respective Elite Eights.
UNDEFEATED TRACKER: How far can Drury go?
Nova Southeastern (No. 7 seed, South Region): Another seven seed to advance to Columbus, the Sharks certainly earned it. They defeated, in descending order, the past three South Region champions. First, Nova Southeastern upset No. 2 Union, the 2018 winner, then No. 3 West Florida, the 2017 winner, and in a dominating 84-63 upset, took down No. 1 Florida Southern, who represented the South in 2016. Here's another fun fact: Christen Prasse triple-doubled in back-to-back games for the Sharks this year. Nova Southeastern is one of two teams to have both its women's and men's teams in the Elite Eight this year, joining Saint Anselm as programs to pull off the feat.
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North Georgia (No. 2 seed, Southeast Region): The Nighthawks are yet another team making their Elite Eight debut as first-time winners of the Southeast Region. It's kind of surprising that this is North Georgia's first trip to the quarterfinals. The Nighthawks have never lost a first round game in their NCAA era, a perfect 3-0, and have a winning record in the regional semifinals as well. They fell four points shy last year, losing 75-71 to Carson-Newman in the third round, but got over the hump in in a 9-point victory over Lander.
Lubbock Christian (No. 3 seed, South Central Region): The Lady Chaps are officially a DII powerhouse. This is their third trip to the Elite Eight, which is unbelievably impressive considering they were only NCAA DII tournament eligible four years ago. Head coach Steve Gomez led LCU to the national championship behind a 35-0 record in 2016 in its first season in the DII tournament after transitioning to the division, making them the only team left in the field with hardware in its trophy case back home.
Azusa Pacific (No. 4 seed, West Region): This one is easy, just two simple words: buzzer beater. The Cougars are the fourth team to win its first regional championship in 2019 and make their Elite Eight debut. Lydia Nieto got them there as time expired.
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CHAMPS!!!!! Lydia Nieto buzzerbeater! No words... 65-63!!! West Region Champs, headed to the Elite Eight!! #sctop10 #roadtocolumbus #shesafreshman pic.twitter.com/wnPVNol2Mo— APUCougars (@APUCougars) March 19, 2019