NAIA Division II National Championship
Game Time...Seventh-ranked Northwestern makes the long trip to North Dakota to play a pair of ranked teams this weekend. The Red Raiders will play #10 University of Jamestown on Friday night at 5:30pm and then will face Valley City State at 2pm on Saturday. Follow the games live on the Jamestown webcast at the following link: (you may have to pay a fee): Jamestown Webcast | or follow the live stats at the following links: Live Stats | Valley City State live stats |
All-Time...This is the eighth straight season that Northwestern has faced both of these teams near or at the beginning of the season. Northwestern holds a 6-3 all-time advantage against Jamestown and has won three of the last four against the Jimmies, including an 84-51 win last year. Northwestern is 8-0 all-time against Valley City State, earning a 67-64 win over the Vikings last year.
Scouting Jamestown...The 10th-ranked Jimmies are off to a 3-0 start to the season, earning wins over the University of Winnipeg, Canadian Mennonite and Brandon, also from Canada. They are averaging over 90 points per game in their three wins.
Greg Ulland is in his fourth season as the Jamestown head coach, owning a 75-19 overall record heading into this year. Ulland returns four starters from a 2012-13 team that tied the school record for wins, finishing 27-6 and ranked 14th in the NAIA coaches' poll. They lost in the national semifinals after winning both the Association of Independent Institutions regular and postseason titles.
After setting the school record for points in a season in 2012-13, Jamestown is once again one of the highest scoring teams in the NAIA, averaging 95.3 points per game. They are shooting 44% from the field and have made 27 three-pointers, averaging nine in the three games played this year. Four players are currently scoring in double figures, led by senior Carly Jensen at 12.3 points per game. A first team all-conference selection last year, Jensen has seven three-pointers this year. Junior Jordan Bridges puts in 12 points per game and Hannah Steele, an NAIA All-American last year, averages 11 points and five assists per game.
Scouting Valley City State...The Vikings are making their season debut this weekend and are earning votes in the NAIA preseason coaches' poll. They were picked to finish third in the newly-formed North Star Athletic Association, behind Jamestown and Mayville State.
Cathy Hanek begins her first season as the Vikings head coach, taking over for longtime coach Jill DeVries. She inherits a squad that returns three starters and 11 letterwinners off a 2012-13 team that finished 24-8 and qualified for the national tournament for the third straight year.
Senior Brittany Lehner, a first team all-conference selection, returns after leading the team in both scoring (13.4ppg) and rebounding (5.0) last year. Kelsey Hunter, a 5'10 forward, is back after scoring 5.5 points per game while Sadiqah Jihad returns in the backcourt after averaging 5.3 points and 3.5 assists.
Northwestern News and Notes...Ranked seventh in the NAIA preseason poll, Northwestern enters the weekend with a 1-0 record. They opened the year with a 109-21 win over Grace (Neb.) on Tuesday night in the Bultman Center.
Northwestern never trailed, scoring the first 12 points of the game. They led 38-2 with five minutes to go in the first half and held a 62-4 advantage at the break. The Red Raiders pressured the Royals into 46 turnovers, leading to a 65-2 points off turnovers advantage for the game. Northwestern also dominated the glass, 59-17, leading to 37 second chance points.
Seven players scored in double figures, led by senior All-American Samantha Kleinsasser with 18 points and five rebounds. Alli Engebretson added 17 points and Karen Hutson scored 13. Northwestern shot 48% for the game but struggled from the three-point line, shooting just 9.5% (2-for-21).
Four starters and seven letterwinners return off a 2012-13 squad that finished third in the conference at 15-5 and lost in the national semifinals to Davenport (Mich) to end the year with a 26-8 overall record. The Red Raiders, under the direction of head coach Chris Yaw, in his third season as the head and 10th as a coach within the program, were picked to finish third in the conference preseason poll and join three other GPAC teams in the top 25 poll; Morningside (3), Concordia (5) and Briar Cliff (14).
Up Next...Northwestern will host Dakota State on Tuesday night at 6pm.