March has arrived, and the IUS women’s basketball team is closing out one of their most successful seasons to date.
IU Southeast will participate in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Division II National Championship Tournament in Sioux City, Iowa, from March 10 to 16.
The Grenadiers locked their chance to compete in the National Tournament by winning their second consecutive Kentucky Intercollegiate Conference Championship, defeating Brescia University 72-66, Feb. 27, at Frankfort Convention Center in Frankfort, Ky.
Women’s head coach Robin Farris said he liked the way his team played throughout the conference tournament and toward the end of the regular season.
“We have won 13 of our last 15 games heading into the national tournament,” Farris said. “We are healthy and don’t have any injuries which is really important. We are playing our best basketball of the year.”
Farris said the team has put in the effort to improve on their weaknesses.
“In the first game [in the conference tournament] we played outstanding defense,” Farris said. “We forced [Asbury College] into using the whole shot clock and we were able to get to the free throw line. The second game [against Brescia University] we played well offensively and had a good shooting percentage. We were able to win both wins, which I liked.”
At the conference tournament, junior point guard Whitney Duncan, was named the KIAC Player of the Year, following a season in which she averaged 12.5 points and 3.9 assists per game. “Whitney has come so far,” Farris said. “Things started to really click for her halfway through last season and she has kept improving. She wants to do what needs to be done for her team. It is a great honor to coach her.”
Duncan is the third Grenadier to be named KIAC Player of the Year during Farris’ 21 seasons as head coach.
IU Southeast was given a No. 7 seed in their bracket and will face off against No. 2 Jamestown College of North Dakota in the first round on March 11 at 8:30 a.m.
Jamestown College finished the season No. 10 in the NAIA Coaches’ Poll. They were the Dakota Athletic Conference Champions and earned a 25-5 regular season record.
Jamestown College is lead by senior guard Giuli Varrian, who averages a team high of 12 points, 6.9 and 2.5 steals per game. Jamestown also has two other guards who average double-figure scoring. Junior Kellie Schuneman and senior Katie O’Neill each average 11 points a game.
Farris said his team will mainly focus on what they need to improve on and try to keep getting better each day. He said he does not want his team to turn the compete focus on what Jamestown team will be trying to do in the game.
Both teams will send a video of the last game they played to the opposing team so each team will be able to have a look at how their opponent plays before they face off on March 11.
“We will look at the game tape, do some research on the other team by checking their stats and also calling some of the other teams they have played against,” Farris said, “but we will mainly just focus on getting better.”
This season marks the fifth time in the school’s history that the women’s basketball team has made it to the national tournament. Last season’s team advanced to the national tournament but was defeated by Davenport University 88-62 in the first round.
“We just didn’t have enough offensive ability on last year’s team,” Farris said. “I feel we do this year, and I think this team has the ability to win some games and make some noise.”
By JUSTIN RAY