Up next: Friday vs. Siena Heights (Mich.)
When: 11:15 a.m. (EST)
Where: Tyson Events Center, Sioux City, IA
On the air: video stream link and live stats at saintfranciscougars.com
Records: Saint Francis (34-0), Siena Heights (26-8)
Expected starters for the Cougars: Paige Frisch – 5-7, freshman guard (5.8 ppg); Skylarr Shurn – 5-7 senior guard (20.5 ppg); Brooke Ridley – 5-10 sophomore forward (14.4 ppg); Jenelle Wilson – 5-7 senior guard (13.9 ppg); Kalah Baer – 6-0 senior forward (8.8 ppg).
Update: The Cougars advanced to the Sweet 16 round of the NAIA Division II National Championship for the fifth time in the past decade, and second straight season, when they easily disposed of Ashford (Iowa) 57-37 on Wednesday. The 20-point victory set a new Saint Francis program record for wins (34), and was ironic, because the last time that the Cougars played today's opponent, it was also a 20-point victory (76-56 at Siena Heights in December). However, that Cougar win was before the team lost its leading scorer (Akyah Taylor) for the season. Siena Heights advanced to today's game by beating a 24-win Tennessee Wesleyan squad 77-59 Wednesday. In that victory, Siena Heights dominated the glass (41-30) and limited Tennessee Wesleyan to just 40.4 percent shooting. The Cougars entered the tournament as the top seed after spending 10 weeks ranked No. 1 in the national poll. Siena Heights had a balanced scoring attack in its opening win with four players scoring in double figures. But most impressive was point guard Grace Howrigon, who totaled 14 points and 10 assists, while turning the ball over just twice in 39:16 of playing time. Saint Francis had three players reach double figures offensively in its opener, which was a slow-down game, including sophomore forward Brooke Ridley, who notched a double-double with 16 points and 10 boards. If Saint Francis can win, it will be the fourth time in nine seasons that it has reached the Elite Eight, including second straight year.
Saint Francis coach Gary Andrews: "We've seen a lot of defenses, but we haven't seen a triangle-and-two yet. We've seen diamond-and-one, all kinds of zones, man-to-man, and stuff like that. We've seen a lot and practice against everything. Our players are pretty confident in whatever we run into and well be able to get a good shot. (The Ashford game) wasn't a great effort, but it was a good effort. Sometimes you have to give the other team credit. But being able to win by 20 in a low-scoring game was a pretty good win for us."