By: Sam Knehans, Communications & Sports Information Intern
NAIA Game of the Week – No. 1
No. 7 Concordia (Neb.) (14-3, 8-1 GPAC) at No. 2 Northwestern (Iowa) (15-0, 7-0 GPAC)
Saturday, Jan. 11 | 2 p.m. CST | Orange City, Iowa
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• The two top-rated teams from arguably the deepest conference in NAIA DII Women’s Basketball will face off Saturday, when No. 2 Northwestern (Iowa) hosts No. 7 Concordia (Neb.) at 2 p.m. CST in Orange City, Iowa. The clubs enter the week as the No. 1 and No. 2 teams, respectively, in the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC), which leads all conferences and independents with five teams ranked among the Top 25 nationally.
• Prior to this weekend’s matchup, both teams will face off against another GPAC foe. Concordia will travel to Midland (Neb.) on Jan. 8, while Northwestern plays host to Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) that same evening.
• Saturday’s contest is the first of two regular-season meetings between the Top 25 teams, with the second coming on Feb. 15 on Concordia’s home floor in Seward, Neb.
• With 93 points and five first-place votes, Concordia was picked to win the 2013-14 GPAC Championship in the league’s preseason coaches’ poll. Defending GPAC regular-season and tournament champion Morningside (Iowa) also compiled 93 points, but had just four first-place votes. Northwestern, with 84 points and two first-place votes, was picked to finish third.
• Concordia’s last conference title came during the 2011-12 season, when the Bulldogs were both the regular-season and tournament champions. Northwestern’s last conference title came in 2010-11, when the Red Raiders were the regular-season and tournament champions.
• Last season, both teams qualified for the NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship. It was the second-straight appearance for Concordia, and the Bulldogs 12th appearance all-time. The berth was the eighth-straight for Northwestern, and also the Red Raiders’ 12th all-time appearance.
• Concordia has four wins against ranked opponents this season: against then-No. 17 Grand View (Iowa), 87-82, on Nov. 2; then-No. 23 College of Saint Mary (Neb.), 96-89, on Nov. 5; then-No. 3 Morningside, 90-82 (OT), on Nov. 16; and then-No. 12 Briar Cliff (Iowa), 80-72, on Nov. 23.
• The Bulldogs’ three losses have all been by seven points-or-less and have come at the hands of then-No. 10 Jamestown (N.D.), Hastings (Neb.) and then-NAIA Division I No. 10 Bethel (Tenn.). All three teams are currently ranked in their respective polls.
• Concordia features four individuals averaging double-digit points per game, led by Bailey Morris’ 17.2 points per game. Despite starting just seven games this season, Morris has played starter’s minutes, averaging 28.4 minutes per game—second only to two-time All-America selection Kristen Conahan (29.1 minutes per game). On the year, Morris has more 20-point performances (6) than single-digit outputs (2).
• Conahan (17.0), Tracy Peitz (13.6) and Jericca Pearson (12.1) are the other three Bulldogs averaging double-digits this season.
• As a team, Concordia is third in the NAIA in total scoring offense (1479), while also ranking among the top 10 nationally in turnover margin (3rd, 7.47), total steals (4th, 223), scoring offense per game (7th, 87.00) and steals per game (7th, 13.12).
• Northwestern is 4-0 against ranked opponents this season, with wins against then-No. 10 Jamestown, 96-86, on Nov. 1; then-No. 12 Briar Cliff, 114-81, on Nov. 12; then-No. 3 Morningside, 102-82, on Nov. 26; and then-No. 10 Midland, 89-69, on Dec. 14.
• The Red Raiders feature four individuals who average double-digit points per game, led by Alli Engebretson’s 19.3 points per game. Engebretson has started all 15 games for Northwestern this season and has reached double-digit points in every contest. She recorded a career-high 24 points on Nov. 12 against Briar Cliff and matched that mark in games against Hastings on Nov. 16 and Grand View on Jan. 3.
• Karen Hutson (18.4), Samantha Kleinsasser (15.8) and Mackenzie Small (11.9) are also averaging double-digits for the Red Raiders this season.
• As a team, Northwestern leads the NAIA in total rebound margin (13.07), while ranking among the top 10 nationally in scoring margin (2nd, 26.67), scoring offense per game (3rd, 94.27), 3-point field goal percentage (4th, .369), field goal percentage (4th, .478), total rebound defense (6th, 33.20), total assists (6th, 301), defensive rebounds per game (8th, 31.00), total rebounds per game (8th,. 46.27), assist to turnover ratio (8th, 1.14) free throw percentage (9th, .751), total scoring offense (9th, 1414), total steals (10th, 183) and steals per game (10th, 12.20).
Additional Notes from Around NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball
(As of Jan. 8, 2014)
• Three teams remain unbeaten: Saint Francis (Ind.) (16-0), Northwestern (Iowa) (15-0) and Point Park (Pa.) (14-0).
• Two programs are still searching for their first victory.
• Saint Francis and Oregon Tech are tied for the NAIA lead in victories with 16 each.
• Laurel Zwiener of Hastings (Neb.) was named this week’s NAIA National Division II Women’s Basketball Player of the Week. For the complete release, click here.
• Indiana Wesleyan head coach Steve Brooks earned his 400th career victory when the Wildcats defeated Marian (Ind.), 71-33, on Jan. 4. Brooks has spent 15 years at the helm of the Indiana Wesleyan women’s basketball program and has led the Wildcats to two NAIA Division II National Championships (2007, 2013).
• Other Top 25 matchups this week:
o Wednesday — No. 22 Huntington (Ind.) at No. 5 Indiana Wesleyan
2013 NAIA DII Women's Basketball Game of the Week - No. 1
No. 2 Northwestern (Iowa) hosts No. 7 Concordia (Neb.) Saturday at 2 p.m. CST
January 08, 2014