Women's basketball

College of the Ozarks @ Northwestern 3 p.m. Saturday, March 15, NAIA Division II National Championship, Sioux City, Iowa


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NAIA Division II National Championship
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NAIA National Tournament
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About CO

Located in Point Lookout, Mo., College of the Ozarks is a member of the Midwest Classic Conference.

Tourney info.

NAIA Division II National Championship
Wed, Mar 12 - Tue, Mar 18
Venue:Tyson Events Center
Location:Sioux City, Iowa
Northwestern Plays College of the Ozarks in Quarterfinals

Game Time...Top seed Northwestern plays #7 seed College of the Ozarks (Mo.) in the quarterfinals of the 2014 NAIA Division II Women's Basketball National Championship. Tip-off at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa, is scheduled for 3pm. Northwestern, ranked fourth in the final coaches' poll, is 29-4 on the year while the Bobcats, who dropped of the top 25 and earned votes in the final poll, are 25-9. Listen live to the game via the KSOU broadcast at the following link: Listen Now!  or follow the live stats here: Live Stats!

NAIA Championship page | 

All-Time...Northwestern is 3-1 all-time against College of the Ozarks with all four match-ups occuring at the national championship. The Red Raiders defeated CofO in the 2008 and 2012 championship games and also in the first round of the 2000 championship. They lost in the 2007 second round to the Bobcats. 

How They Qualified and Past NAIA Championships...Northwestern earned an automatic bid into the 32-team field by way of winning the GPAC regular season title. They also won the postseason championship, the second time sweeping the titles in the last four years. The Red Raiders are playing in their ninth straight and 13th overall national championship, holding the most wins (44-7) and championships (5). They have reached the quarterfinals seven straight years and are 9-1 all-time in the national quarterfinals. 

The Red Raiders escaped with a 63-62 win over eighth-seeded Tabor (Kan.) in the first round after Karen Hutson completed an old-fashioned three-point play with 1.3 seconds left. Northwestern improved to 13-0 in first round games. They followed with a convincing 92-68 win over Huntington (Ind.) in the second round, led by Alli Engebretson (20), Karen Hutson (19) and Samantha Kleinsasser (16). 

College of the Ozarks earned the second to last at-large bid into the 32-team field and are one of three teams from the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference at the chamionship (College of Saint Mary and Oklahoma Wesleyan). The Bobcats earned the #7 seed but easily upset #2 Saint Xavier (Ill.) 68-43, one of two #7 seeds to beat a #2 in the first round. They followed with a 92-87 overtime win over third seed Mayville State (N.D.).

Ozarks is making their 20th overall appearance at the championship, the most of any NAIA D-II team. This is their 13th straight appearance  (every year since 2002) and they boast a 33-19 all-time record at the championship, finishing as the runner-up four times and reaching the quarterfinals nine times, owning a 5-3 record. 

Scouting College of the Ozarks...The Bobcats earned one of the #7 seeds in the field of 32 after finishing third in the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference regular season with a 10-4 record. They were behind College of Saint Mary (Neb.) and Oklahoma Wesleyan in the standings and lost to the later in the conference  semifinals. They are 25-9 overall. C of Ozarks began the year ranked 10th, climbed as high as #9 but fell out of the top 25 by the end of the year. 

Becky Vest is in her second season as the head coach of the Bobcats, taking over the program last season for long time coach George Wilson. Vest guided CofO to a 30-5 record last year, losing to Briar Cliff in the second round. She returns three starters and five players off last year's team but does have to replace All-American Morgan Smith, the team's leading scorer and rebounder for the last two years. 

The Bobcats are one of the highest scoring teams in the NAIA, averaging 84 points per game. They also are one of the top shooting teams at 46% from the field, 38% from the three-point arc and 75% from the free throw line. Defensively, they give up 66 points per game. 

Four players score in double figures for the balanced CofO offense, led by freshman Alice Heinzler, who earned first team all-league honors after scoring 14.8 points per game. She has 46 three-pointers on the year and 93 assists. Emily Walker, another first team all-conference pick, scores 14.7 points and pulls down five rebounds per game. Brandy Uchtman averages 13 points and 5.5 rebounds per game while Kayla Kepler averages 12. Jeana Raper leads the team with 75 three-pointers. 

Northwestern News and Notes...The Red Raiders finished the season ranked fourth in the NAIA coaches' poll and earned one of the four #1 seeds in the 32-team field. They have now won sevenstraight games heading into Friday's second round match-up and are 29-4 overall, needing one more win to reach 30 for the sixth time. Northwestern was the co-champions of the regular season with a 16-4 record, ending the regular season tied with Morningside, Hastings and Concordia. They won the conference postseason title, their fourth championship since 2001. 

Chris Yaw is in his third season as the head coach of the Red Raiders after spending seven years as the top assistant. 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. 

Northwestern ranks third in the NAIA in scoring, averaging 89 points per game. They also rank third in field goal percentage (47%), sixth in three-point percentage (36%) and sixth in rebounding (+10). Defensively, they are giving up 70 points per game and hold opponents to just 38% from the field. 

Alli Engebretson leads the Red Raiders in scoring, averaging 19.3 points per game. A first team all-conference pick, Engebretson ranks ninth in the NAIA with 95 three-pointers and pulls down 7.3 rebounds per game. The senior has scored in double figures in all but one game this season. Karen Hutson scores 16.8 points per game and led the GPAC in field goal percentage (55%). Hutson earned second team all-league honors and also averages 5.5 boards per game. Samantha Kleinsasseraverages 16.1 points and 7.1 boards per game, shooting 52% from the floor. Kleinsasser ranked second in the league with 54 blocks and earned first team all-conference honors. Mackenzie Small scores 11.6 points per game and ranks second on the team with 55 three-pointers, shooting 38% from beyond the arc. Small was an honorable mention all-conference pick. Paige O'Neal scores six points per game and has dished out 178 assists, earning honorable mention all-GPAC honors. Whitney VanderMaten (5.8), Arianne Gesell (4.0) and Morgan VanDerSloot (4) are the top players off the bench. 

Up Next...The winner advances to play in the national semifinals on Monday where they will play either Hastings (Neb.) or Davenport (Mich.) at 8pm.