BILLINGS, MONT. (March 14, 2018) – (Schedule| Bracket) The 38th annual Division I Women's Basketball National Championship, presented by Wells Fargo, tipped off this morning at Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark.
The Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) Saints will begin their seventh consecutive foray in the single-elimination championship at 9 a.m. Mountain (10 a.m. Central) on Thursday, March 15. The Saints will play Loyola University New Orleans (LUNO). The tournament will run through the championship final on March 21.
Red River Athletic Conference regular season and tournament champion LSU-Shreveport lost their game this morning to Menlo 79-91.
The first 30 games of the national championship will be video-streamed live on the NAIA Network at www.NAIANetwork.com, the NAIA's official video platform powered by Stretch Internet. The championship final is distributed on ESPN3 for the fifth-straight season on March 21 at 7 p.m.
2018 National Championship
- The Saints are the No. 4 seed in the Cramer Bracket, while the Wolf Pack are the No. 5 seed.
- The Saints played the Wolf Pack in 2010 and lost 45-64. In the round of 16 at the 2013-2014 national tournament, the Saints lost to Loyola 67-72.
- The Saints enter the tournament after earning runner-up status in the RRAC Tournament. LUNO received an automatic bid after claiming the 2018 Southern States Athletic Conference Championship.
- This will be the Saints' seventh consecutive trip to nationals and their sixth under Head Coach Christopher Minner. Their first trip came in 2011-2012 when the Saints won the conference tournament. After that season, the Saints won the conference regular season the following five years.
- The Saints are ranked 16th in the NAIA Division I Women's Basketball Final Coaches' Top 25 Poll that was released March 7. They have been ranked every year since the 2012-2013 season. The Wolf Pack are ranked 20th in the Poll.
- The Saints are the top ranked team in the NAIA in scoring offense per game (87.938), turnover margin (10.719) and total scoring offense (2,814). They are ranked in the top 10 in total steals (405), steals per game (12.656), total 3-point field goals made (254), scoring margin (16.844), 3-point field goal percentage (.366), and in field goal percentage (.451). RRAC Player of the Year Quintianna LeShore (SR/Indianapolis, Ind.) is 11th in the NAIA in field goal percentage (.540) and 13th in total scoring (537). She averaged 17.323 points per game this season. Lena Wilson (SO/Converse, Texas) is 14th in free throw percentage (.804) and Francesca Patrick (SR/Killeen, Texas) is 20th (.797). Julia Rendon (SR/San Antonio, Texas) is 23rd in total 3-point field goals made (71).
- The Wolf Pack are the top ranked team in the NAIA in defensive rebounds per game (32.333) and in total rebounds per game (46.633). They are in the top 10 in total rebound offense (1,399), field goal percentage defense (.336), 3-point field goal percentage defense (.254), total rebound margin (8.567) and scoring margin (16.367). Zoie Miller is eighth in scoring per game (587/19.567) and Di'Mond Jackson in ninth in assists per game (145/4.833).
- This year's field consists of 14 automatic berths, 17 at-large selections and championship host Rocky Mountain. Automatic qualification is given to conference regular-season champions, regular-season runners-up, tournament champions or tournament runners-up depending on the league. At-large teams were determined using the final regular-season Coaches' Top 25 Poll released on March 7. CLICK HERE for the poll
- Shawnee State enters the tournament as the overall top seed for the first time in school history.
- Campbellsville will make its 26th appearance in the DI Women's Basketball National Championship. The Tigers have the most appearances in the championship field. Wayland Baptist follows with 25 championship appearances.
- Including Campbellsville and Wayland Baptist, there are three other teams that have 20-or-more appearances: Freed-Hardeman, Oklahoma City and Vanguard.
- There are only four teams in the championship field that have won one-or-more national titles. MidAmerica Nazarene, Oklahoma City, Vanguard and Westmont.
- Oklahoma City has won four of the last six national championships and owns an NAIA record nine red banners. The Stars – 71-14 all-time at the event – now hold the record for most all-time national tournament wins after their 2017 championship run. Union formerly held the record with 67 wins.
- Arizona Christian, Grand View and Menlo qualified for the championship for the first time in 2018.
- Twenty-three of the 32 qualifiers participated in the 2017 championship.
- Dillard returns to the championship snapping a 13-year drought with their last appearance in 2004.
- Fifteen programs will also have representation at the NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship in Kansas City, Mo. – Campbellsville, Carroll, Central Methodist, Columbia, Dillard, Lindsey Wilson, LSU Shreveport, Montana Western, Oklahoma City, Our Lady of the Lake, Science & Arts, The Master's, Wayland Baptist, Westmont and William Penn.
- The Golden State Athletic Conference and Heart of America Athletic Conference each boast five programs in the 2018 field.
- For more information on the NAIA Division I Women's Basketball National Championship, click here.