For just the third time in school history and the first since 1999, the Shawnee State University women’s basketball team will tip off a national semifinal contest at the NAIA Division II National Tournament.
SSU, playing its last D-II tournament before moving to the Mid-South Conference, an NAIA Division I conference, next year, will take on Indiana Wesleyan tonight at 6 p.m. (7 p.m. EST).
The Wildcats have only made one previous appearance in the final four, but went home with the national title in 2007.
Indiana Wesleyan is making its eighth-consecutive national tournament appearance, making up all of its all-time visits. SSU is playing in its 15th appearance in the national tournament, the second-most in this year’s field.
A battle of contrasting styles is expected, with the Bears averaging the fourth-highest scoring total in the NAIA this season at 80.5 points per game and the Wildcats preferring a half court style, where they are allowing less than 58 points per contest this season.
The early moments of the contest will be important, with the team that is able to establish its tempo being in good shape to advance to Tuesday night’s national championship game. If SSU gets hot and gets up a few buckets early (like they have in their other games this season in Sioux City), Indiana Wesleyan will have trouble continuing to be patient in its offense.
If the Bears aren’t hitting early, and they fall down by five or six points early, they will need to maintain composure and not sound the panic alarm with the Wildcats eating up so much of the clock on their offensive possessions.
The contest tips in 35 minutes. If you stumble across this blog before 7 p.m., tune into NAIA.org or visit Buffalo Wild Wings to watch streaming video of the game.