|Northwood University Classic|
Mon, Dec 29 - Tue, Dec 30
|Location:||West Palm Beach, Fla.|
Game Time...Northwestern College heads to West Palm Beach, Florida to play in the Northwood University New Year's Women's Basketball Classic on Dec. 29-30. The Red Raiders will play a pair of NAIA D-I teams, beginning with Avila (Kan.) on Monday at 11am (CST). They will play #17 Montana State-Northern University on Tuesday, Dec. 30 at 11am (CST). Both games will be held at the Countess de Hoernle Student Life Center and are available to follow via the Northwood webcast at the following link: Watch Now!
All-Time...This will be the first time that Northwestern has played either Avila or Montana State-Northern.
Avila...Members of the Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC), the Eagles own a 1-2 league record, 4-3 overall. They opened the year with three consecutive wins against Saint Mary (Kan.), Bethany (Kan.) and RMU-Springfield but followed with three straight losses to Ottawa (Kan.) and to conference teams, Benedictine and Evangel (Mo.). Last time out, they defeated Peru State (Neb.) 69-65 in a conference match-up on Dec. 13.
Larry Williams is in his ninth season as the head coach, having guided the Eagles to back-to-back national tournament appearances during the 2011 and 2012 seasons. Last year, Williams guided Avila to a 5-13 conference record, tying two other teams (Evangel and Peru State) for seventh place but failed to reach the HAAC postseason tournament. They finished 7-19 overall and return four starters and eight players off last year's team.
Avila is averaging 65 points per game, shooting 41% from the field this season. They are one of the top defensive teams in the NAIA, giving up 57 points per game while holding teams to 37% from the field.
Senior Rebekah Capeder is the Eagles' leading scorer, ranking third in the NAIA at 23 points per game. She is just the sixth player in Avila history to score 1,000 points in a career, surpassing the milestone last time out. Capeder is shooting 55% from the field and also leads the team with 10 rebounds per game. Michaela Brinkley returns as a starter after earning All-American honors last season. She is averaging 15 points per game and leads the team with 21 three-pointers. Kelsey McConnell, also a returning starter, leads the team with 31 assists and averages four points per game.
Montana State-Northern...Ranked 17th in the NAIA D-I coaches' poll, the Skylights are a perfect 14-0 this season. They are one of three Frontier Conference teams in the last coaches' poll (Dec. 11), joining Lewis-Clark State (13) and Westminister (4). MSU-Northern was 21st in the preseason poll and is 3-0 against NAIA D-II teams, defeating Warner-Pacific, Dakota Wesleyan and Valley City State.
Head coach Chris Mouat is in his 10th season on the MSU-Northern sideline after serving short stints as an assistant at both Rocky Mountain and Montana Tech. He returns four starters and a total of seven players off a 2013-14 team that finished third in the Frontier with a 10-6 record and upset #10 Columbia (Mo.) in the first round of the NAIA D-I national championship. They lost to eventual national champion Oklahoma City in the second round to end the year with a 22-10 record.
Ranked first in scoring defense, the Skylights are giving up just 44 points per game after allowing an NAIA-leading 53 points per game last year. They are holding opponents to 30% from the field and 26% from beyond the arc while owning a big edge on the boards (+13.5). Offensively, MSU-Northern is scoring 76 points per game, shooting nearly 50% from the field.
Senior Ajha Edwards, a 2014 All-American, leads the team in scoring (15.7), rebounding (10.4) and blocked shots (19). The 6'5" post player is shooting 60% from the field and was named the Frontier newcomer of the year last season. Natalee Faupel, an all-conference pick last year, scores 13 points per game and is second on the team with 20 three-pointers. Jacy Thompson leads the team with 29 three-pointers and is shooting better than 40% from beyond the arc while scoring 9.4 points per game. Taylor Cummings returns as the team's point guard and ranks eighth in the conference with 69 assists.
Northwestern News and Notes...The Red Raiders enter the break with a 7-6 overall record and are in sole possession of seventh place in the GPAC with a 3-4 record, one game in back of both Dakota Wesleyan and Hastings. Northwestern is 3-2 over its last five match-ups, defeating Mount Marty, Nebraska Wesleyan and Midland in GPAC play while losing to Briar Cliff and NCAA D-I Drake. Four of the Red Raiders' six losses are to teams ranked in the current top 25.
Northwestern scores 76 points per game and is shooting 45% from the field and 32% from beyond the arc. They are averaging nearly five three-pointers per game. Defensively, they are giving up 71 points per game and teams are shooting 40% from the field. The Red Raiders own a +4.5 edge on the boards.
Karen Ettleman leads the Red Raiders in scoring, averaging 22 points per game, fifth most in the NAIA. The senior and returning All-American has scored in double figures in all but one game and has nine games with at least 20 points. Ettleman also leads the team in rebounding (5.8) and steals (30). Senior Paige O'Neal, a three-year starter, scores 10.5 points per game and ranks seventh in the NAIA with 71 assists. O'Neal is 10th all-time at NWC in career assists, needing two more to pass Jessica Ortman (1999-2003) for ninth place. Arianne Gesell averages 9.5 points per game while shooting over 70% from the field. Morgan VanDerSloot scores 7.1 points per game and is the team's top perimeter threat with 18 three-pointers.
Up Next...Northwestern returns to GPAC play after the new year with a tough road test against Dakota Wesleyan on Wednesday, Jan. 7 at 6pm at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, S.D.