Women’s basketball team makes it to national tournament

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After a record breaking season, the women’s basketball team won the SLIAC Tournament and earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament.

The women’s basketball team earned an automatic bid to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III Tournament after a historic undefeated season. The team ended its regular season 25 – 0.

On Feb. 26, the Gorloks won the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) tournament, beating Westminster College 82 – 71. Senior forward Addison Beussink said winning the championship against Westminster was a good revenge story since Westminster beat the Gorloks in the 2021 SLIAC tournament.

“Before the game on Saturday, our coaches taped up pictures on the wall everywhere in the locker[room] of the net that Westminster cut down,” Beussink said. “We were like, ‘Don’t remind us of that’ but it felt really good to beat them. Seeing them cry was nice considering that was us last year. Especially with it being my last season. I was so excited.”

Women’s basketball team celebrate their SLIAC Championship win after defeating Westminster College with a final score of 82 – 71. Contributed by SLIAC.

Beussink was named the SLIAC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year for this season. This is the sixth Gorlok to win a Player of the Year award and first ever Defensive Player of the Year. She was also added to the First Team All-Conference and All-Defensive team.

Beussink enters the postseason after scoring her 1,000th career point early in the regular season. Currently, she has 1,407 career points while averaging 18.1 points per game.

The Gorloks also added senior guard Naomi Johnson to the All-Defensive team. Johnson earned a Second Team All-Conference spot along with her All-Defensive team honor. She said it feels good winning the SLIAC tournament and earning a trip to the NCAA National Tournament in her senior season.

“It feels really good with everything we went through this season – like COVID and games being canceled,” Johnson said. “Everything we worked for is coming to an end but it’s also a great time. I’m just excited to see how nationals go.”

This season marks Johnson’s third time making an All-Conference team in her career. She averaged 12.2 points per game and led the team in free throw percentage, shooting 81% from the line. She also led the team in three pointers this season making 59 three pointers.

The Gorloks ended the regular season ranked No. 32 in the nation according to D3hoops.com. The team also finished ranked top five in eight different statistical categories. They were second in points and steals per game, with 88.6 points per game and 18.4 steals per game. Along with this, the team ranked third in assists per game, total steals and turnovers forced per game. Johnson said she is excited to play new teams in the national tournament.

“We have been playing conference teams and haven’t seen many teams out of our conference,” Johnson said. “I am excited to play a new team and get new competition.”

According to Johnson, the chemistry on the team is something which has made them successful this season, along with the depth from the bench. Sophomore Bethany Lancaster is the fourth leading scorer coming off the bench. The second leading three-point shooter is sophomore guard Kate Rolfes, who also comes off the bench.

Head coach Jordan Olufson earned his first SLIAC Coach of the Year accolade in 14 seasons with this team. He won this after breaking the SLIAC 21 consecutive wins record and earning his 200th win as head coach at Webster.

“I think we have been able to build something pretty special here at Webster,” Olufson said on Hoopsville Hotline podcast. “I hope that people who don’t know much about us check out our games and see what we do and what we are about. Become a big fan of Webster because our kids deserve a lot of respect.”

The team hopes to make a long run in the national tournament. Their first game will be against the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. The UMHB Cru earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament after going 24 – 2 and ranking first in the region.

Despite having an undefeated season, according to Beussink, UMHB is still favored to win this matchup. She said this made the team want to win even more.

“I am proud of our team and after listening to the selection show, we are still the underdogs very much so,” Beussink said. “That just kind of lit a fire under me even more than already as well with the rest of my teammates. So I am excited and ready and very motivated.”

The Gorloks will face off against UMHB at 5 p.m. on Friday, March 4. They will play at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee.

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Sports Editor | + posts

Kaelin Triggs (he/him) is the sports editor for the Journal. He is a journalism major pursuing a career in sports writing. He also runs for Webster's track and cross country team, and he enjoys playing piano and hanging out with friends and family.