We’ve got four games to go in Round 3 of the 2016 Postseason WNIT – already waiting in the quarterfinals are the squads from Florida Gulf Coast, Hofstra, Michigan and Oregon.
March 24 games:
Ohio (26-6) at Temple (22-11) – The Bobcats are in the WNIT for the first time in program history and are 0-2 all-time against Temple. Ohio is in a resurgent era these days, winning 27 games last year, which was an 18-game improvement from the season before. Kiyanna Black is averaging 18.4 points per game, with Quiera Lampkins chipping in 14.6 points per contest. The Bobcats typically play solid defense, forcing about 19 turnovers per game and holding the opposition to just under 60 points per game.
Temple is in the WNIT for the sixth time and is known for playing in some tight contests. The Owls eked past Quinnipiac by two points in Round 2; last year, they made a run to the WNIT semifinals and played two overtime games, losing the last one to West Virginia. One of Temple’s strengths is the ability to spread out the offense to multiple players – Alliya Butts (15.2 ppg) leads the team, but two other players average in double figures, and two more average in the upper 9.0 range.
Northern Iowa (24-10) at South Dakota (28-6) – Northern Iowa is in the WNIT for the sixth time; the Panthers are 6-6 all-time against South Dakota and beat the Coyotes handily back in November, 64-43. Madison Weekly is a potent force for UNI, averaging about 18 points per contest and shooting a robust 42 percent from 3-point range. The Panthers will prioritize taking care of the ball, as they average just 11 turnovers per contest.
The home team has won 11 times in the 12 games between the teams; South Dakota will look to crank up the pace, as it averages about 80 points per game (11th in the nation). By season’s end, the Coyotes will have set program records for points, rebounds, assists, field goals made and field goals attempted. Senior guard Nicole Seekamp was the Summit League player of the year; the Australian native has topped 2,000 points in her career and averages about 16 points per contest.
TCU (18-14) at UTEP (28-4) – This is the 15th game all-time between these teams, with TCU leading, 8-6, but just the first meeting for these Texas-based programs in 15 years. Senior guard Zehna Medley is TCU’s all-time leading scorer with 1,955 points; she’s been an all-Big 12 first team selection three times. The Horned Frogs have been outrebounded by opponents this season, but the team has four shooters from 3-point range who have been effective.
UTEP is a handful at home, going 18-0 this year; the Miners were ranked as high as No. 25 this year in the USA TODAY coaches poll. The team causes a lot of disruption defensively, holding teams to under 39 percent shooting from the field and forcing nearly 21 turnovers per contest. UTEP will struggle at times with its own efficiency on offense, shooting just 41 percent from the field and 26 percent from 3-point range.
Western Kentucky (26-6) at Saint Louis (26-7) – This is the second meeting between the programs; WKU won back in 1991 by the score of 115-33. The Lady Toppers are in the Postseason WNIT for the 11th time – Kendall Noble leads the way with 18 points and 7.56 rebounds per game, while Tashia Brown (who rang up 32 points in the Round 2 victory against UT Martin) averages 17.6 points per contest. Western Kentucky has back-to-back 25-win seasons for the first time since the early 1990s.
Saint Louis won its first two WNIT games by a total of five points; Monday’s win against Ball State came despite the team laboring to make shots, but the Billikens played superior defense to keep it close. Still, the game was nearly lost in the last 10 seconds when Ball State stole an inbounds pass but missed a layup. Atlantic-10 co-player of the year Jackie Kemph is averaging 16.7 points and seven assists per contest.