Women’s Basketball RedHawks Heading Back to Independence
For the second time in as many seasons, the Martin Methodist Women’s Basketball team is headed to the national tournament.
The RedHawks (22-11) were included in the 32-team field for the 2016 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship, which begins on Wednesday, March 16 at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena in Independence, Missouri.
The RedHawks earned their invitation as the No. 13 at-large selection. For their efforts, the RedHawks earned a No. 7 seed in the A.O. Duer Bracket and will meet No. 2 seed MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.).
The Pioneers (27-5) punched their ticket to the national tournament by winning the Heart of America Conference tournament. The meeting will be the first ever between the two schools.
“We are ecstatic to be heading back to Independence,” RedHawks head coach Kyle Bent said. “Last year we made the first trip to the national tournament in program history. Being able to get back is truly a testament as to how hard our ladies prepared this offseason and executed throughout the year. I feel as if we had some very good wins on our resume and that probably tipped the scales in our favor to earn the selection.”
The RedHawks resume was, perhaps, one of the strongest in the NAIA this season.
The RedHawks own three wins over Top 5 teams, most recently defeating No. 3 Bethel (Tenn.) in the Southern States Athletic Conference tournament last week. The RedHawks also defeated Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) on the road and Bethel again at home when those squads were ranked No. 2.
The RedHawks also own a victory over SSAC tournament champion Loyola (La.), which finished the regular season in the Top 25.
Martin Methodist made its national tournament debut as the No. 6 seed and were defeated, 83-67, to Our Lady of the Lake (Texas) in the opening round.
“Last season was an eye-opening trip for a lot of the young ladies,” Bent said. “It was the first exposure for many of them to a big-time postseason stage. I think we have grown a lot as a team in the past year and we are excited to hit the road to Independence next week and see what we can do.”