SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (USF) — For the second time in program history, the No. 24 University of Sioux Falls Women’s Basketball Team (26-6) has earned a spot in the NCAA postseason as the Cougars received the No. 3 seed in the NCAA Central Region Tournament. USF will face No. 6 seed St. Cloud State on Friday, March 13 in Warrensburg, Mo. Game times will be announced later this week.
Sioux Falls, which became the program’s first-ever NSIC South Division champs, earned an at-large bid to the tournament after finishing at the No. 3 seed. The winner of the first round matchup between USF and SWOSU will play the winner of No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth and No. 7 Fort Hays State on Saturday, March 14 and the NCAA Central Region Championship will be held on Monday, March 16.
“I am extremely proud of this team and what they’ve already accomplished this year,” said 12th year USF Head Coach Travis Traphagen, who is the career leader in wins at USF with a 243-117 record. “When you have as many upper class players and seniors as we do, you see strong leadership and a strong sense of direction. From that, we get contributions from everyone which started in the preseason, through practices and to the games. It is a team that embraced expectations, took care of the little things, worked hard to get better, and went out and put together a great season. They won an NSIC South title, earned national recognition and took care of their business this season,” he said. “Now the second season starts and I know we are capable of more and we are excited to get to work and play on Friday.”
“I think we have to remember how hard it is to make an NCAA Tournament,” said Traphagen, whose team was ranked as high as No. 7 in the WBCA Poll. “A lot of really talented teams will not be selected. We come from one of the best regions in the country and we will get to work and play hard and with passion when we get to the tournament later this week,” he said.
In 2015-16, the Cougars finished 27-6, won the NSIC title and advanced to their first-ever regional at Pittsburg, Kan. Like in 2015-16, the Cougars had a 17-5 record in the South Division. The Cougars have two All-NSIC performers with first-teamers Kaely Hummel (17.0 ppg, of Cherokee, Iowa, who is USF’s all-time third leading scorer (1,733 points) and all-time three-point artist (273 made 3s) and Mariah Szymanski of Pulaski, Wis., who has 1,172 points for 17th all-time at USF. USF senior forward Jacey Huinker was named to the All-NSIC Defensive Team for the second time.
Central Regional – Warrensburg, Mo.
No. 1 Central Missouri (27-4) vs. No. 8 Southwestern Oklahoma State (21-8)
No. 2 Minnesota Duluth (26-6) vs. No. 7 Fort Hays State (23-7)
No. 3 Sioux Falls (26-6) vs. No. 6 St. Cloud State (23-7)
No. 4 Emporia State (24-7) vs. No. 5 Southeastern Oklahoma (23-7)