Top-seed Northwestern is set to play No.5 seed Indiana Wesleyan in a second round match-up Friday night at the 2019 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 pm. Northwestern, ranked fourth in the final coaches’ poll, is 27-4 on the season. Indiana Wesleyan, ranked 20th in the final poll, owns a 21-12 overall record.
IWU finished third, four games behind Marian and Taylor, in the Crossroads League regular season, posting a 12-6 conference mark. They are 21-12 overall, defeating No.4 Bryan (Tenn.) in a first round match-up on Thursday. Margot Woughter scored 26 points, draining a 2019 championship-best seven three-pointers, and Nicole Ignasiak added 17 points and six boards for the Wildcats, who opened up a commanding lead early and led by double digits for most of the game.
Ethan Whaley is in his second year as the Wildcats head coach, joining the women’s program after a six-year stint as the assistant for the mens’ team. He returns three starters and 10 players from 2018 team that lost in the second round to Southeastern (Fla.) and finished with a 25-9 record.
Indiana Wesleyan has been ranked in the top 25 all season, beginning at #15, falling as low as 22, finishing at No.20.
The Red Raiders earned the first of nine at-large bids into the 32-team field and are one of six teams from the Great Plains Athletic Conference, most of all leagues, in this year’s field. One of three teams from the Crossroads League in the field, Indiana Wesleyan earned an at-large bid, joining both Marian and Taylor in the field.
Northwestern is making its third straight and 16th overall appearance at the championship, owning a 53-11 overall record, the most wins at the championship. The Red Raiders are a perfect 16-0 in the opening round. They have won five titles, also the most in the history of the championship, and reached the semifinals last season before losing to Concordia.