The Covenant College women's basketball team, on an eight-game winning streak, and coming off an Appalachian Athletic Conference tournament championship last weekend, will play defending national champion and #6-ranked Northwestern College of Iowa next Thursday at 8 p.m. EST in the first round of the NAIA Division II Women's Basketball National Tournament in Sioux City, Iowa.
National tournament games can be viewed online through pay-per-view at www.WatchNAIA.com.
The Lady Scots (20-12) were the fifth-seeded team in last week's AAC tournament and defeated fourth-seeded Union College in the quarterfinals, top-seeded King College in the semi-finals, and then beat sixth-seeded Tennessee Wesleyan 78-66 in Saturday afternoon's championship clash.
Covenant found itself as the fifth-highest rated team among those receiving votes in the final NAIA Division II women's basketball Top 25 ratings (#30-ranked in the nation), and were given a seventh-seed in their eight team bracket at the national tournament.
Northwestern College, who was 35-2 last year, comes from arguably the best conference in NAIA Division II, the Great Plains Athletic Conference, and the Raiders enter the national tournament this year at 23-8 after dropping their conference championship game to the nation's unanimous top-ranked team Morningside College who is 33-0.
The Raiders are led by 5'9" sophomore guard Becca Hurley who leads the team in scoring (20.2), rebounds (5.52), assists (3.38) and steals (2.24). The talented second-year player also is shooting 44.9% in field goals, 36.3% from outside the arc, and 83.5% from the free throw line. Junior post Randa Hulstein (14.3) and 5'8 freshman guard Kami Kuhlmann (13.2) round out Northwestern's double figure scorers.
"Coach Earl Woudstra is one of the top coaches in our profession, having won 311 games in just 14 seasons, and his teams are always so well-coached," said Covenant head coach Roy Heintz. "While every team wishes they were seeded a little higher and doesn't want to square off in their initial game among one of the nation's top teams, I think it will be a great honor to see how we measure up against one of the top team's in the nation. You can see what a great team they are, in that they work for great shots and lead the nation in field goal percentage (making 46.9% of their shots as a team), are sixth in assists as a team (17.45) and are sixth in scoring offense (78.48).
"We obviously will have a great challenge ahead of us, and will leave Sunday for Sioux City with the hope that we represent our conference and region well, and that we represent Christ well in everything that we do out there. Our kids are excited about being a part of the incredible event that Sioux City hosts, and also are looking forward to visiting the elementary schools, doing the Special Olympics clinic, and serving other community organizations through outreach visits while we are out there."
The Lady Scots are led by senior guard Liz Martin who is third in the nation in scoring, and coming off an AAC Tournament MVP performance after scoring 108 points in the three games, All-AAC third team and AAC All-Freshmen team selection Ashley Wilson, and junior forward Erika Forland whose inside play and rebounding earned her All-Tournament onors.
For complete NAIA National tournament coverage visit the NAIA website (www.naia.org) and to order your pay-per-view coverage of Covenant's games, and national tournament play visit www.WatchNAIA.com.