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The Journal Gazette

  • Jason Ridge

  • Chad LaCross

  • Quila Jackson

Wednesday, March 01, 2017 6:19 pm

Saint Francis men, women, Indiana Tech women get NAIA bids

Aubree Reichel | The Journal Gazette

The Saint Francis men's and women's basketball teams and the Indiana Tech women learned who they will be facing in the opening round of their respective NAIA Division II National Championship tournaments Wednesday.

The Saint Francis women will open against Davenport at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday while the Indiana Tech women face Tabor at 4:30 p.m. the same day in Sioux City, Iowa.

The Saint Francis men face Oregon Tech at 1 p.m. Wednesday in Point Lookout, Missouri.

The Cougar women fell to the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference champion Panthers 78-59 in Grand Rapids, Michigan on Nov. 1.

"We played Davenport early on, that was part of one of our five-game losing streaks," senior Quila Jackson said, "and we are definitely not the same team that we were when we first saw them so I'm pretty excited to have another chance at them."

Jackson and classmate Paige Frisch were freshmen when the Cougars finished the season 38-0 and national champions in 2014.

"They came and played as freshmen under one scenario with a veteran team and a lot of really good leaders," coach Jason Ridge said of the seniors, "and now here they are, at the end of their career, leading young kids into a tournament.

"In a lot of ways, this is a really neat experience for them. We're really excited for the opportunity. We're going to go out there and see what happens."

The No. 16-ranked Warriors haven't appeared in the national tournament since 1995 and are the No. 4 seed in the Naismith Bracket. No. 5-seed Tabor is the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament Champion.

"We are excited about the opportunity to represent Indiana Tech at the national tournament," Warriors coach Jessie Biggs said in a statement. "It is something our players have worked extremely hard for and they deserve to have this great experience."

The Saint Francis men played Oregon Tech in 2010 during their national championship run and again in 2012, a 100-67 loss in the elite eight.

"They've always been tough," coach Chad LaCross said of Oregon Tech. "They finished (tied for second) in their league and made it to a league championship. I watched some of the game (Tuesday night). It's a good team, they score a lot of points."

The Cougars return four of five starters from last year's national runner-up team while the Crossroads League has four representatives at the national tournament including Indiana Wesleyan, Bethel and Taylor.

"Night in and night out, you get everybody's best especially since we've been to the national tournament six out of the last seven years," LaCross said. "We're a team everybody gets up for. We know we get everybody's best every night and I think it prepares us for postseason play. We're looking forward to getting out there and competing."

areichel@jg.net