North Coast Athletic Conference tournament champion Wittenberg (23-6) earned its ninth bid into the 64-team NCAA Div. III Women’s Basketball Tournament, while DePauw (23-2) earned its 12th-straight berth, receiving one of the 20 at-large bids into the championship field. 2015 marks the first time since the 1994-95 season the North Coast will be represented by two teams in the national field.
Wittenberg captured its eighth NCAC Women’s Basketball Tournament title on Saturday evening with an 81-57 triumph over fifth-seeded Ohio Wesleyan (15-13) at Neal Fieldhouse in Greencastle, Indiana. Wittenberg scored the game’s first seven points, but Ohio Wesleyan battled back to cut the Tiger lead to one at 15-14 with 11:40 left in the first. Wittenberg would close on a 21-8 run to take a 36-22 lead into the break. The Tigers continued to build the lead that reached 27 points thanks in part to hitting 50 percent (5-for-10) from beyond the arc.
Wittenberg will travel to St. Louis, Missouri for its NCAA opening-round contest against Transylvania (25-2), which received one of the 20 at-large bids and has now made two-straight NCAA Tournaments. The winner of the Wittenberg/Transy contest will take on the winner of the Wash. U (23-2)/Spalding (22-4) match on Saturday at Wash U.
Wittenberg has a 2-8 record in the national tournament, with both wins coming in their last appearance in 2004. That year, Wittenberg defeated Penn St.-Behrend, 81-49, in the first round and Messiah, 51-48, in the second round, before falling to Scranton in the Round of 16 by a 68-51 margin.
DePauw will host Hanover of the Heartland Conference Athletic Conference (24-3) in a first-round matchup on Friday night. The other first-round contest in the bracket pits Maryville (25-3) of the USA South Conference against John Carroll (22-4) of the Ohio Athletic Conference.
DePauw is appearing in its 12th-straight NCAA postseason and 16th in the last 20 years, including national titles in 2007 and 2013, as well as a third-place showing in 2002 and additional quarterfinal appearances in 2006, 2008 and 2014.
The winners of Saturday’s second-round games will advance to one of four sectional-round sites, March 13-14. Sectional winners will move on to the semifinals and finals, March 20-21, to be held at Van Noord Arena on the campus of Calvin in Grand Rapids, Michigan. More information on the NCAA Tournament can be found HERE