By virtue of its regular season and Mid-South Conference Tournament performance, the women’s basketball program at Shawnee State earned a No. 2 overall seed in the 32-team NAIA Division I Tournament field, according to the national bracket that was released by NAIA officials Wednesday evening.
Shawnee State, who holds a 29-4 overall record heading into the national tournament, officially clinched its 13th consecutive tournament bid in school history Monday evening by defeating Thomas More, 81-72, for the Mid-South Conference Tournament Championship. The conference tournament title was the Bears’ fifth over its last six seasons.
SSU will play No. 7 William Woods, who was placed as the Bears’ opponent in the Naismith Bracket portion of the NAIA D-I Tournament, on Thursday, March 19 at 11 a.m. EST/9 a.m. MST. The unit will look to avenge an 88-85 loss to the Owls during the 2016-17 season, when then No. 1-seeded Shawnee State fell in the NAIA Opening Round to William Woods.
Shawnee State’s inclusion in the 2019-20 tournament field is the 25th appearance in a NAIA Tournament field in school history. A win over William Woods next Thursday would mark the seventh 30-win season in school history for SSU, and the third over the last four years alone under Nickel’s direction.
Of the Mid-South Conference teams that were included in the tournament field — including No. 1 Campbellsville, No. 4 Lindsey Wilson, and No. 6 Thomas More — Shawnee State went 6-2 against those units, including obtaining victories over the latter pair of teams. The Bears defeated the Saints in each of their three matchups during the 2019-20 season.
In addition to its strong track record in 2019-20 against their three biggest conference foes, Shawnee State also defeated NAIA Division I Tournament Qualifiers Talladega (Ala.) and MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) during the regular season, and fell by a scant two-point margin to Westmont, who obtained one of the four overall seeds. Ironically, all three teams are on Shawnee State’s side of the bracket, with Westmont (No. 1), Talladega (No. 3), and MidAmerica Nazarene (No. 8) all being placed in the Naismith.
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