New Faces Look To Make History

[taken from SLIAC.org]

The Tournament
After back to back tournaments with the same four teams the 2017 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament field welcomes in two new teams along with last year’s defending champion, and a first time tournament host.

Eureka College secured the program’s first ever SLIAC regular season title and the tournament’s #1 seed this season by going 14-2 in conference play. As host the Red Devils will face #4 seed Fontbonne University, who is making their first tournament appearance since 2012, in the second semi-final game on Thursday at 8 p.m. Defending SLIAC Tournament Champion, Greenville College secured the #2 seed in the field and will face #3 seed Webster University, making their first trip since 2013, in the tournament’s opening game at 6 p.m. on Thursday. The SLIAC Women’s Basketball Tournament Championship game will be played on Saturday, February 25 at 1 p.m.

Broadcast Information
The Championship Game of this year’s SLIAC Women’s Basketball Tournament will be broadcast live on College Casts by the crew of Buzz Swanston and Eric Callison. You can listen to the Championship Game HERE You can also watch all three games of the tournament on Video HERE

EUREKA COLLEGE ‘RED DEVILS’
Eureka College rolled to the program’s first ever SLIAC regular season title this season going 14-2 in conference play and out scoring their opponents by 18.4 points per game. The Red Devils were 18-7 overall this season and finished the year 10-2 at home.The Red Devils offense was dangerous all year long, averaging 73.8 points per game while connecting on over eight three-pointers per game. Eureka is led by junior guard and newcomer Hayley Reneau. Reneau is averaging 13.8 points per game while connecting on 58 three’s this season. She is just as impressive on the defensive end where she led the conference in blocks with 34 and was second in steals with 69. Senior forward Michaela Balducci is averaging 11.8 points and 7.6 rebounds per game while junior guard Kerrigan Dura is a threat to score (9.8 points per game) and set up her teammates (4.9 assists per game).

Overall Record: 18-7
SLIAC Record: 14-2
Tourn. Appearances: 6
Tourn. Titles: 0
Last Championship: n/a
Coaches Corner with Steve Thompson

What does it mean for you to be hosting the tournament this year in front of your home crowd where you are 10-2 this season?
“It is a great privilege and honor to host the conference tournament. It is one of the reasons why then President Arnold was behind the investment of renovating our arena. Playing at home has been a tremendous asset for our team this year and I hope it continues to be throughout the conference tournament.”
Although you lost your leading scorer from last year, your offense has jumped from 60.2 points per game to 73.8 points per game; what has helped your offense take that next step?
“It’s been an interesting transition. This season we have a number of ladies that are able to score the basketball. I think we had six different players lead us in scoring this year and that makes us a tougher match up. We have done a good job this season taking care of the basketball and putting each other in a position to be successful with the ball in our hand.”
FONTBONNE UNIVERSITY ‘GRIFFINS’
Fontbonne went 13-12 during the regular season, finishing 9-7 in the SLIAC. After winning four straight games to clinch a berth into the tournament the Griffins have dropped two straight to close out the regular season. The Griffins averaged 62.7 points per game this season, sixth in the conference, while allowing the third fewest.Senior guard Emmie Haring is the engine for the Griffins. Haring holds numerous program records and became the conference’s all-time leader in assists earlier this season. She currently leads NCAA Division III in assists with 190 and is also averaging 8.7 points while ranking third in the SLIAC in steals. Sophomore guard Kaitlynn Walker increased her scoring by nearly eight points from last year and leads the team this year at 12.6 points per game. Meanwhile freshman Raven Venegas has given the Griffins another weapon and is averaging 9.7 points per game while shooting 47-percent from the floor.

Overall Record: 13-12
SLIAC Record: 9-7
Tourn. Appearances: 18
Tourn. Titles: 3
Last Championship: 2010

Coaches Corner with Maureen Sias

This is the team’s first trip to the postseason since 2012, how rewarding was it for the team to get back into the tournament?
“It is very rewarding to be back in the tournament. The girls and all of the coaches set this as one of our goals at the beginning of the season and they have been working so hard to achieve it. I’m very excited and proud to see their hard work paying off.”

Emmie Haring has had a great career but the addition of Raven Venegas and development of Kaitlynn Walker seems to have really helped the team this season, can you talk about those three players?
“Emmie has been a key to our success this year. Her ability to get the ball in her teammates’ hands and put them in a scoring position is amazing. Plus with the addition of Raven, Emmie’s abilities are elevated. Raven gives us a post presence we’ve needed. Her ability to score with her back to the basket but also step out makes her hard to guard. Kaitlyn has improved immensely from last year due to her off-season commitment. She spent many hours in the gym developing her outside shooting and ability to drive to the basket.”

GREENVILLE COLLEGE ‘PANTHERS’
After suffering back to back losses at the beginning of the month the Panthers have won four straight and in fact are 8-2 in their last ten games. They are averaging 72.4 points per game this season, third most in the conference, and are shooting an impressive 44.9 percent as a team including 36.4 percent from three-point range, both conference bests.At 6’1″ junior forward Laura Goodnight is a match-up nightmare who can go both inside and outside while averaging 12.0 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. Sophomore Wesley Woodward is a low post threat that averages 10.9 points per game while ranking second in the SLIAC with a 52.8 field goal percentage. Senior guard Taylor Paulin has been a clutch performer for the Panthers, averaging 10.4 points per game which includes a stretch of three straight 20 point plus games earlier this year.

Overall Record: 17-8
SLIAC Record: 12-4
Tourn. Appearances: 8
Tourn. Titles: 1
Last Championship: 2016

Coaches Corner with Roy Mulholland

This is the program’s third consecutive year appearing in the SLIAC Tournament and you are the defending Champions, how do you think your previous experiences have prepared this year’s team?
“I think the first year we were pretty happy to be included in the tournament. When you have not been there for awhile it is important to take the first step. That experience definitely helped us last year. We felt like we belonged and were ready to take the next step. Being able to win the conference championship was great for our confidence and helped our kids understand we could play well in big games. We believe we have seen the positive effects of that win in our season this year.”

You have three players that really balance your scoring out, how does that balance help you?
“We have been fortunate over the last several years to have multiple players who can score. We have also been blessed with an inside/outside game. You really hope this becomes an advantage at this time of year knowing you do not have to rely on a player or two to get the job done but that there are multiple options. Our kids do a good job of understanding their roles and playing within their strengths.”

WEBSTER UNIVERSITY ‘GORLOKS’
Webster comes into the SLIAC Tournament has the hottest team, winning their last five games. The Gorloks led the conference in scoring this year at 79.4 points per game, an increase of 16.1 points from last year. The Gorloks high tempo style of play allows them to get to the free-throw line over 20 times a game while forcing a remarkable 32 turnovers per game.Junior guard Kelsey Miller is the leading scorer at 11.5 points per game while junior forward Taylor Lucas is averaging 10.2 points per game while shooting 51-percent from the field. Freshmen guards Jade Sawyer (9.6 ppg) and Jaysea Morgan (7.7 ppg) have made an immediate impact on the court for the Gorloks. The deep Gorlok lineup features 10 players that average at least 12 minutes per game.

Overall Record: 19-6
SLIAC Record: 11-5
Tourn. Appearances: 17
Tourn. Titles: 2
Last Championship: 2011

Coaches Corner with Jordan Olufson

This is the first time the Gorloks have made the tournament since 2013 and your 19 wins are the most since 2004-05, what has been the big change to your success this year?
“The league has been pretty tough and deep the past couple years and we fell short. We have veteran players who have gotten better over the last two years along with adding some new impact players. The combination of both with great energy and effort each night has really helped in the process. We are a team that is just trying to get better each day and our kids are working to improve.”

Your team really emphasizes pressure, both on offense and defense. What does playing up-tempo mean for your team?
“We have played the same style the last nine years but this year we have grown as a team, understanding what we are trying to accomplish and a team full of team players. Our kids are being more consistent in our style with pressure in our trapping system and pushing the tempo consistently. We have really grown in being more consistent and being more comfortable in our program.”

Tournament Tidbits

  • This is the sixth consecutive trip to the SLIAC Tournament for Eureka but the first time they have hosted the tournament.
  • Although they have made a conference record 18 trips to the SLIAC Tournament, this is Fontbonne’s first trip since 2012.
  • Greenville will be appearing in their third straight SLIAC Tournament, a program record.
  • Webster will be making their first tournament trip since 2013.
  • Eureka is just one of two current SLIAC schools to have never won a tournament title. Iowa Wesleyan, who has not been eligible for the tournament, is the other school.
  • Fontbonne has the most SLIAC Tournament wins in conference history with 20, claiming three tournament titles (1998, 1999, 2010).
  • Greenville picked up the program’s only two wins in tournament history when they made their championship run last year.
  • Webster’s 19 wins are the program’s most since they finished with 21 wins in the 2004-05 season.
  • Did you know only one seed lower than the #2 seed as ever won the SLIAC Tournament? That was in 2011 when Webster won as a #3 seed. In fact 16 of 21 times the top seed has won with last year stopping a streak of four straight top seed victories.

Speak Your Mind