By Matt Green
No. 4 Southern Nazarene (18-10) vs. No. 5 Shorter (17-11)
NCCAA Women's Basketball Championship • Wednesday, March 13 • 8:30 am • Winona Lake, Ind.
WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Consistency of achievement is often an accurate measure of success. The Shorter women's basketball team has steadily built a winning tradition over the past few years, a tradition constructed on a foundation of national tournament appearances.
That legacy takes another step in the right direction on Wednesday.
The Lady Hawks open play in their fourth straight national tournament tomorrow morning when they tip off the NCCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship at 8:30 am in the quarterfinals against Southern Nazarene.
Shorter, seeded fifth in the eight-team tournament, squares of with the Crimson Storm, seeded fourth, for the right to advance to Thursday's semifinal round against the winner of the matchup between top-seeded – and Shorter's new Gulf South Conference rival – Union and eighth-seeded Roberts Wesleyan.
The Lady Hawks (17-11), making their first appearance at the NCCAA Women's Basketball Championship in their first year as an NCCAA member, earned their automatic bid to the event by crushing Emmanuel 74-47 in the NCCAA South Region title game last Wednesday.
Southern Nazarene (18-10) received an at-large bid to the national tournament despite a 73-64 loss to eventual NCCAA Central Region champion Oklahoma Christian in the regional semifinals. Like Shorter, the Crimson Storm are in search of their first NCCAA national championship after establishing themselves as a top NAIA program before deciding to make the move to NCAA Division II.
Southern Nazarene presents a stiff challenge for the Lady Hawks with three players lighting up the scoreboard to the tune of double figures.
Leading the way for SNU is 6-foot senior guard Oumoul Thiam, who averages 20 points a game while shooting 41 percent from 3 and 82 percent from the foul line. The Crimson Storm have plenty of size inside as well, with 6-foot-2 forward Annie Kassongo averaging 13.9 points and shooting 58 percent and 6-foot-4 sophomore center Aminata Fall averaging a monster double-double of 13.2 points and 14.2 rebounds a game.
Fall also has 85 blocks on the season.
While SNU will look to pound it inside, Shorter hopes to capitalize on its perimeter prowess behind its accomplished backcourt trio.
Junior point guard Karisma Boykin paces Shorter offensively at 12 points a game in addition to averaging 4.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists and a team-high 2.0 steals. Boykin had a season-high 23 points in Shorter's regional final victory.
The Lady Hawks have been outrebounded by an average of three boards a game, and will need senior forward Shelby Farrer, who brings down 8.2 caroms per outing, to stay active on the glass and counter Southern Nazarene's size down low. Lynette Harris (5.3 rpg), Lindsey Crawford (4.5) and the physical Chelsi Matthews will also have their go against the Crimson Storm's front line.
Tomorrow's game will be broadcast live on WATG-FM 95.7 The Ridge and via a live webcast that can be accessed by following the link on the Shorter Athletics homepage. Tourbeau Sports is also providing a live video feed for all tournament games. The live video site can be found here.