Baker women learn first foe in NAIA nation finals
The No. 12 ranked Baker University women’s basketball team will take on No. 23 ranked University of the Cumberlands at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 19 in the first game of the First Round of the 2014 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Tournament in Frankfort, Ky.
The 26-6 Wildcats advanced to the national tournament with its 2013-14 HAAC regular season championship 17-1 record and captured its first conference title since 1983. Baker earned its berth into the 32-team field with its HAAC regular season championship.
The Patriots out of Williamsburg, Ky., finished tied for second in the Mid-South conference with No. 8 Georgetown and its 13-5 conference mark.
Cumberlands enters the national tournament with a 19-10 record and earned the No. 11 at-large spot and this marks the 14th-apperanace for the Patriots, while this will be the first-ever appearance for the Wildcats.
Baker has had a successful postseason to this point, defeating Evangel, 64-54, in the First Round of the HAAC Tournament then took down No. 5 seeded Missouri Valley, 69-60, in the HAAC semifinals.
On Tuesday night, Baker hosted No. 2 MNU in the HAAC title game and fell to the rival Pioneers, 79-72, in the HAAC Championship.
Cumberlands earned the No. 3 seed in the Mid-South Conference Tournament and were upset in the first round, falling to No. 6 Pikeville, 87-77.
The Cumberlands feature three Mid-South All-Conference players including First Team All-Conference center Brooke Forsythe, as well as Second Team All-Conference players Jackie Alexander and forward Julie Haye.
Forsythe averaged 15.8 points per game along with 5.3 rebounds and shot 54.4-percent from the floor and is an 87.8-percent free-throw shooter.
Haye was the second leading scorer for the Patriots at 12.7 points per game and averaged five rebounds per game.
The Wildcats come into the tournament with the 2014 HAAC Player of the Year in senior point guard BriAnna Garza along with 2014 HAAC Defensive Player of the Year Macy Wallisch and back-to-back HAAC Coach of the Year Ben Lister.
Garza had 144 assists on the year and led the squad with 14.4 points per game. She also knocked down a team high 58 three-point field goals.
Wallisch led the conference with 101 blocks this season and is second in the NAIA in total blocks and fourth in the nation in blocks per game at 3.1.
The Cumberlands faced nine ranked teams this season and posted a 2-7 record against those foes.
While Baker took on five ranked teams in 2013-14 and went 3-2 in that stretch.