Three intense days of action is all that is remains in the DII women’s basketball season. Here’s what you can expect in the Elite Eight.
Ashland enters the Elite Eight as favorites:
Here are just a few numbers that explain how Ashland earned the No. 1 seed.
- 2000/1000: Laina Snyder is the first player in program history to score over 2,000 points with 1,000 rebounds in her career.
- 102-2: Head coach Robyn Fralick’s career record.
- 100.3: Points per game, the first women’s team to eclipse the century mark for an entire season.
- 72: Points Ashland needs to score to break UConn’s single-season record for points scored in a single-season (3,481).
- 71: Consecutive victories by the Eagles, a DII record.
- 3.8: Steals by breakout sophomore star Jodi Johnson, which led DII.
With Ashland and Carson-Newman on opposite sides of the bracket, and the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, it is possible that we can have an all Eagles championship game.
Another possible outcome could pit the last two national champions against each other. No. 3 Lubbock Christian could possibly face Ashland in the finals. The two teams combined to go 72-0 as the third and fourth teams to go undefeated in DII women’s basketball history.
Carson-Newman and Union (TN) are making their Elite Eight debut. The Lady Eagles had a record-setting season in the South Atlantic Conference, breaking the conference wins mark (32), points mark (91.5 per game) and assists mark with 687. Union eked out a one-point victory in the South Region championship to advance to Sioux Falls. Chelsey Shumpert dropped 30 points in the regional winner on her way to becoming the Gulf South Conference's single-season scoring leader.
Five teams – Carson-Newman, Stonehill, Montana State Billings, Union (TN) and Indiana (Pa) – will be vying for the program’s first national title. Ashland won in 2013 and 2017, Lubbock Christian in 2016, and Central Missouri won in 1984.
Birds of prey: five of the teams have mascots that fly. There are two Eagles, one Yellowjacket, one Skyhawk and one Crimson Hawk. In fact, the Hawks go head-to-head in the Elite Eight as Stonehill and Indiana (Pa) square off at 9:30 p.m. ET on March 19.
Party like it’s 1999:
Oddly enough, both Indiana (Pa) and Montana State Billings return to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1999.
Alisha Breen leads Montana State Billings, seemingly adding to her storied Great Northwest Athletic Conference career. She's tops on the Yellowjackets in points (766) and rebounds (335) and is amongst the career GNAC leaders in both categories with 1,976 career points and 864 career boards.
Indiana (Pa) is a well-balanced team. Megan Smith leads the Crimson Hawks in points (559), Britanny Robinson leads the team in rebounds (217) and Lauren Wolosik leads the team in assists (160). This team can attack its opponent in several different ways.
It's been awhile:
While Montana State Billings and Indiana have waited a long time to get back to the Elite Eight, Stonehill and Central Missouri have waited even longer.
The Skyhawks looked to be on the precipice of a long run in the mid-90s. They made back-to-back Elite Eights in 1994 and 1995. That was the last time Stonehill made it that far, however.
Now, Stonehill is back, winners of 29 games and the No. 4 seed. Kelly Martin has been the player to watch all season long, leading the team in scoring and assists. She nearly triple-doubled (18/7/8) in the regional championship victory.
Central Missouri last won a regional title in 1989. The Jennies were a powerhouse in the mid to late-80s, winning their lone national title in 1984, and returning to the championship game in 1985. Central Missouri crushed Augusta (SD)'s hopes of playing for a national championship on its "home" court, with an 81-42 victory in the Central Region championship. That's what makes this Jennies team so dangerous. For the first time in program history, Central Missouri was undefeated on the road.
A wild regional finish
Lubbock Christian stole headlines, winning a national championship in its first year of DII women's basketball eligibility in 2016. That team lost a lot of firepower, and the Lady Chaps missed out on the tourney last season.
They are back with a vengeance, winners of 25 in a row, most of those wins coming in dominant fashion. The South Central championship game was another story. Lubbock Christian held on to win a tightly-contested battle, 56-53 over West Texas A&M. Senior Tess Bruffey recorded the program's fourth triple-double (17/13/10) in a wild game that also featured a half-court shot.
Top scorers in the Elite Eight:
|Alisha Breen||MSU Billings||21.3|
Top rebounders in the Elite Eight:
|Alisha Breen||MSU Billings||9.3|
|Tess Bruffey||Lubbock Christian||8.6|
|Kayonne Lee||Central Missouri||8.4|
Top assist leaders in the Elite Eight:
|Rylee Kane||MSU Billings||4.8|
The 2018 DII Women’s Elite Eight kicks off Monday, March 19, 2018, from the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Lubbock Christian, winners of the 2016 DII Women’s Basketball Championship, get things started, taking on Central Missouri at 1 p.m. ET.