UPLAND, Ind. – The Taylor University women’s basketball team will open its 2018 NAIA Division II National Championship Tournament with a 2:45 pm (ET) matchup against No. 18 and fifth-seeded Northwest Christian in the First Round today.
No. 15 and fourth-seeded Taylor earned its seventh trip to NAIA Nationals by finishing runner-up in the Crossroads League Tournament to CL regular-season champion Marian, allowing the Trojans to claim the league’s second automatic bid to the national tournament.
TU boasts a 23-10 overall record entering the tournament, marking most wins in a season since the 2006-2007 squad that reached the NAIA Elite Eight, while the Trojans racked up a program-best 14 wins in league play and a team-record six wins over NAIA Top-25 opponents this season.
The Purple and Gold are led by their three 1,000-point scorers in junior Kendall Bradbury and seniors Josie Cobb and Cassidy Wyse, as the trio has averaged a combined 47.7 points per game in 2017-2018.
Bradbury, the third-highest scorer in program history with 2,019 career points, leads all NAIA Division II players with 23.6 points per game, while ranking 11th in rebounding (10.2 per game) to earn First-Team All-Crossroads League honors for a second-straight year. Bradbury’s 777 points on the season are a TU single-season record, while the Valor Christian product has set career-highs in points, rebounds and assists (2.5) per game.
Cobb and Wyse each joined Bradbury in being honored by the Crossroads League, with Cobb earning a third-team selection and Wyse being selected to the second-team.
Cobb is averaging career-highs in points (10.7), rebounds (4.8) and assists (3.2) per game, and Wyse has posted a career-high 13.5 points per game and added 6.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.
Taylor has made a program-record 300 triples on the season, which ranks 10th in the NAIA Division II, while TU’s 80.5 percent shooting from the free throw line is the best in the nation. The Trojans take care of and share the ball well, ranking in the top-15 of Division II in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.2 assists per turnover) and assists per game (16.9).
TU’s first-round opponent, fifth-seeed Northwest Christian (23-6), earned its program’s first-ever trip to NAIA Nationals, after falling to No. 10 Southern Oregon, 80-58, in the Cascade Collegiate Conference Tournament Semifinals. The Beacons are 0-5 against the tournament field, having lost to conference foes Southern Oregon three times and Eastern Oregon twice.
Northwest Christian has three all-conference honorees that lead the way, with freshman Anamarie Virjoghe’s 15.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game being the primary weapon on offense. Senior Katerina Brejchova’s 8.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.8 steals per game lead the team in each category, while adding 6.9 points per game. Freshman Morgan McKinney is second on the team with 12.2 points per game and 42 steals.
As a team, the Beacons rank seventh nationally in blocks (4.7) per game, seventh in field goal percentage defense (35.2 percent), 11th in rebounding average (42.9) and 14th in points allowed per game (58.6).
The winner of the contest between Taylor and Northwest Christian will advance to play the winner of No. 2 and top-seeded Concordia (32-1) and eighth-seeded Stillman (19-11) on Friday, March 9 at 11:15 am (ET) in the Second Round of the NAIA National Tournament.
All of TU’s games during the NAIA Division II National Championship Tournament will have a free audio broadcast on the Trojan Sports Network, with the NAIA providing free live stats and pay-per-view video of all 31 games in the National Championship Tournament. All coverage links are available at Athletics.Taylor.Edu.
Extra Extra! More Notes of Interest
-Taylor went 4-7 against teams in the 32-team NAIA National Tournament Field this season
-Taylor is making its first NAIA National Tournament appearance since 2010 and the seventh in program history
-TU’s last win at Nationals was a 67-61 victory over Iowa Wesleyan in 2007
-TU is 3-6 all-time at the National Championship Tournament
-Trojans are 2-4 in first round games at Nationals
-The four TU victories against NAIA qualifiers were at Indiana Wesleyan, a neutral court win over Dakota Wesleyan, and wins over Olivet Nazarene and IWU in Odle Arena
-TU notched its first 20-win season since 2012-2013 and the 13th in program history
-Taylor has made a program-record 300 three-point shots this season
-Taylor has recorded 14 games of 10 made three-pointers this season, compared to just 15 such games over the past 14 seasons combined.
-Taylor’s 73.8 points per game is the most in a season since 2004-2005
-TU’s scoring margin of 10.2 points per game is the highest since the 2006-2007 squad that made it to Taylor’s only Elite Eight appearance in team history
-TU has posted collective team GPA above 3.0 in each of last four years
Editor’s note: Josie Cobb, a graduate of Miami Trace High School, is the daughter of Glen and Jan Cobb of Fayette County.