In a week that consisted of All-Conference selections, a historic 20-win season, and their first SLIAC (St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) Championship since 2011, the Webster University women’s basketball team (20-6) earned another opportunity to add to their season. With Saturday night’s 63-61 victory, the Gorloks earned a spot in the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Earlier today, the NCAA Selection Show confirmed Webster University’s opponent for the tournament. They are slated for a first-round matchup against Wartburg College (27-0) on Friday, March 2. The Wartburg Knights enter the game as the second ranked team in the tournament. The game will take place in Waverly, Iowa, where the Knights finished the season with an undefeated 13-0 record.
The women’s basketball team came away victorious in a competitive win against Westminster University in order to punch their ticket into the NCAA Division III Tournament. The Gorloks shot under their usual percentages (41.4 percent from the field, 34.1 percent from behind the arc on the season), and converted only 28.1 percent of shots in the second half. Still, they used a 14-11 advantage in the fourth quarter to come away with the two-point victory.
In that game, senior Taylor Lucas contributed 25 points, nine rebounds, and four steals, and Megan Brandt added 11 points to help guide the team to victory. Heading into the tournament, the Gorloks were ranked third among the four teams, though Lucas was confident in her team’s chances to win.
“I’m not surprised that we won the Conference Tournament,” Lucas said. “We have the most talented team in the SLIAC, and we finally got a chance to prove it.”
Taylor’s sister, Aley Lucas led the team in scoring during the season, with 12.9 points on 45 percent shooting. She was held to three points during the SLIAC Championship against Westminster, but provided a pair of steals to assist the team defensively. Prior to the game, Aley Lucas talked about that defensive mentality that assists the team.
“My mindset for games like these is just to always give 110 percent, and always telling myself that if I rebound and play defense, my points will come,” Aley Lucas said. “I also try to be the person that gets everyone pumped up and ready to play.”
Along with their upcoming matchup in the NCAA Division III Tournament, multiple players were also recognized for individual All-Conference awards. Aley Lucas was awarded with a First-Team All-SLIAC selection, which was the first since Maggie Zehner in 2012-13. Kelsey Miller, the team’s leading three-point shooter, was also recognized as a Third-Team All-SLIAC selection. Senior Megan Brandt earned her second straight SLIAC First-Team All-Defensive selection, and Kylie Shoot was acknowledged as an All-Sportsmanship Team representative.
The team participated in five NCAA Division III Tournament games, and owns a 2-3 record. The team has been the underdog in previous games this season, and it will have to overcome that once again in the tournament. When asked of the biggest adjustment the team needs to make prior to the tournament, sophomore Jade Sawyer talked about the team’s need for composure.
“I think we just have to play our game,” Sawyer said. “Sometimes we get away from that at times, but when we stay true to what we do as a team, we’re hard to beat.”
If the team does defeat Wartburg College, they will have an opportunity to advance to the NCAA Sectional Round, which would represent the team’s furthest finish since 2002, when the team went 25-3 overall, and a perfect 14-0 in the SLIAC.