BATESVILLE, Ark. (LyonScots.com) – Tracy Stewart-Lange and her Lyon College women's basketball team have earned the program's second straight trip to the NAIA Division I Women's National Basketball Tournament and they learned that fate while they weren't even on the court.
By virtue of No. 1-seed Columbia College (27-6) defeating No. 3-seed William Woods, 91-83, in the American Midwest Conference Championship game on Monday night in Columbia, Mo., the Scots (28-4) earned the second automatic bid from the conference. It will also be the second trip in the program's history.
Lyon College will travel to Frankfort, Ky. early next week and take part in the 32-team single-elimination event, which begins Wednesday, March 13, and wraps up on March 19 at the Frankfort Convention Center.
The Scots, ranked 17th in the latest NAIA Division I Women's Basketball Coaches' Poll, claimed the second berth from the AMC because they finished as regular season co-champions with Columbia College. The 15th-ranked Cougars earned the first automatic bid because they received the No. 1-seed in the AMC Women's Postseason Tournament because of a tiebreaker with the Scots. Lyon took the second bid from the conference when Columbia also claimed the tournament championship.
No. 23-ranked William Woods University could still receive an at-large bid with an impressive 25-6 season record.
Lyon College will learn whether they will play on March 13 or 14 of the first round of the national tournament and who its opponent will be on Wednesday night. At 7 p.m. the NAIA will announce the 32-team field and the schedule. Those results can be seen live at: http://www.naia.org/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=27900&ATCLID=206604164.
Eliminated from their first-ever trip to the AMC Women's Postseason Tournament in the semifinal round by William Woods (83-69) on Friday, the Scots still had a couple 'aces in the hole' as they watched their fate unfold. Their first was to receive the conference second automatic berth, as they did. And with a 28-4 season record and a ranking of 17th in the nation, it was likely the Scots would have received an at-large bid even if they had not captured the automatic qualification. Last season Lyon received an at-large bid out of the TranSouth Athletic Conference.
It's been a strong year for Lyon, claiming the most wins ever by the program. The Scots also have run off winning streaks of four, five, seven and 12 games in 2012-13. Heading into the national tourney, Lyon College has recorded only two losses in its last 21 games. The Scots were 17-1 at home this season and are unbeaten (14-0) on the road.
The Scots are led by their four seniors, Debbie Onukwube (Little Rock, Ark.), Phagen Altom (Bald Knob, Ark.), Suzanne Fincham (Royal, Ark.) and Chris Smith (Bentonville, Ark.). The foursome includes the top four scorers on the team, averaging a combined 44.4 points of the team's 69.8 points per contest. It also possesses three of the team's top four rebounders, averaging a combined 18.2 of the team's 36.6 rebounds per game.
Of the 200 minutes played per game, the Lyon leaders are averaging 111.4 minutes per game. Two of the players – Fincham and Onukwube – are the top field goal shooters on the squad. Fincham has connected on 51.5% (118-of-229), while Onukwube is second at 47% (165-of-351).