KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The University of Rio Grande will face Morningside (Iowa) College in the opening round of the NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship Tournament.
The RedStorm, the No. 5 seed in the tourney’s Cramer Bracket, will meet the fourth-seeded Mustangs on Thursday, March 8, at 8 p.m. EST at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa.
The bracket for the tournament, which begins next Wednesday, was released by the national office in an online announcement Wednesday night.
The tourney is divided into four eight-team brackets – Naismith, Cramer, Duer and Liston. The Naismith and Cramer winners will meet in one national semifinal on Monday, March 12, with the Duer and Liston winners squaring off in the other semifinal.
The two semifinal survivors will play in the national championship game on Tuesday, March 13, at 8 p.m. EST.
The two semifinal games and the national title contest will be aired nationally on ESPN3.
Rio Grande (30-3) punched its ticket to the tournament by earning the top seed in the River States Conference tournament as the league’s East Division champion.
The RedStorm also captured the RSC tournament championship with a 90-85 victory over West Division champion Alice Lloyd College on Tuesday night.
Rio Grande, which moved to No. 20 in the latest coaches’ poll released Wednesday, is making its seventh all-time national tournament appearance.
Morningside, the tournament’s designated host school, sports a 21-11 record and is ranked 13th nationally.
The Mustangs finished fifth in the Great Plains Athletic Conference’s regular season standings and reached the semifinal round of the conference tournament before falling to No. 2-ranked – and eventual tourney champ – Concordia (Neb.), 106-86.
The GPAC placed a tournament-high five schools in the 32-team field.
Morningside is led by 5-foot-8 senior guard Madison Braun, who averages 20.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.2 steals and 2.1 assists per game. She was recently named to the GPAC’s All-Conference First Team and earned Player of the Year honors.
Braun is in the Top 15 nationally in eight different statistical categories, ranking first in both three-pointers made (123) and three-pointers made per game (3.8), third in total scoring (657 pts.) and fifth in total steals (101).
The Mustangs also feature All-GPAC Second Team members Sydney Hupp (6-0, soph., F) and Sierra Mitchell (5-7, fresh., G).
Mitchell averages 11.9 points per game and was named the GPAC Freshman of the Year, while Hupp averages 11.8 points and 7.0 rebounds per contest.
Sophomore guard Jordyn Moser (5-6) earned honorable mention All-GPAC honors, averaging 6.3 points and a team-high 3.3 assists per game.
Next Thursday’s meeting will be the first ever between the Mustangs and the RedStorm.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.