KANSAS CITY, Mo.- The Alice Lloyd College Lady Eagles will face the College of the Ozarks (Missouri) Lady Bobcats in the opening round of the NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship Tournament. The contest is scheduled for Thursday, March 8 at 1:00 pm (EST) and will be held at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa.
The bracket for the tournament, which begins Wednesday, March 7th, was released by the national office in an official announcement Wednesday night. The tourney is divided into four eight-team brackets – Naismith, Cramer, Duer, and Liston. College of the Ozarks is the top seed in the Duer Bracket, and the Lady Eagles are seeded eighth.
ALC enters the contest as winners of the River States Conference (RSC) West Division with a 15-3 record, and on the season, they hold a sparkling 24-5 record. They suffered a last minute heartbreaking loss in the RSC championship game on the road to the East Division winner, and NAIA DII No. 20 University of Rio Grande (Ohio), 90-85. The Lady Eagles losses in the regular season were to Rio Grande, Milligan College (Tenn.), Point Park University (Pa.), and IU East (Ind.).
The Lady Bobcats post an outstanding 30-1 record and are ranked No. 3 in the latest NAIA DII Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 poll. They qualified for the national tournament by defeating Stillman College, 71-52, to claim the A.I.I. Conference Championship. The Ozarks only loss this season came at the hands of No. 2 Concordia University (Neb.), 101-103 in overtime.
The two colleges share similarities on and off the court. On the court, Alice Lloyd averages 82.1 ppg and has four players who average double digits: Haley Hall (14.6), Alexandria Clifton (13.9), Miranda Wilson (13.6), and Kayla Wilson (12.9). College of the Ozarks averages 87.4 ppg and also possesses four double-figure scorers: Cass Johnson (16.4), Kelsie Cleeton (14), Lakin Simmerman (12.4), and Shelby Roberts (12.3).
Three-point shooting is a major weapon for each team and both clubs use it well to their advantage. The Lady Eagles are #4 in NAIA DII in 3-point shooting percentage at 38.8% and #3 with 10.79 three-pointers per game while the Ozarks are ranked #2 in NAIA DII in both shooting percentage, 41.2%, and triples per game,11.03. Also, the Lady Bobcats’ Roberts (53%) leads the nation in 3 point percentage, but Miranda Wilson (51.2%) and twin sister Kayla (46.4%) are both ranked in the top 10 as well.
ALC is ranked #4 in blocks per game (5bpg) fueled by Clifton (50), Emilie Harrell (28), and Jayla Spurlock (25). The Ozarks hold the edge in steals, averaging 10.9 per game as Cleeton is ranked # 4 in total steals (104), and steals per game (3.35). However, ALC is solid in this department as well, averaging 9.6 per night with Miranda (75) and Kayla Wilson (65) leading the way. The Ozarks hold an advantage in rebounding, as they average 44 rebounds per game compared to 40 by ALC. Kayla Wilson leads the way with 7.2 per game for the Lady Eagles while Cleetons’ 11.3 sparks her club.
Off the court, the two colleges possess similar missions. Both colleges provide a quality college education in a Christian environment to students who may not otherwise have the opportunity to pursue a college degree. The two colleges are also both work colleges. Students have the opportunity to work at on-campus jobs to help cover the cost of tuition. Each college also has the goal of operating as debt-free as possible. Furthermore, Dr. Jerry C. Davis, president of College of the Ozarks, previously served as the president at Alice Lloyd from 1977-1988. He also hired current Alice Lloyd College president, Dr. Joe A. Stepp, to serve as ALC’s Director of Athletics and Men’s Basketball Coach back in 1983. Stepp has served as president of ALC from 1999 until the present.
The winner of the contest will advance to play on Friday, March 9th at 6:15 pm (EST) against the winner of No. 14 Valley City State (N.D.) and No.19 St. Francis (Ill.).