The Shorter University women’s basketball team earned the top seed for next week’s National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) South Region Tournament, which is set to commence March 4-6 at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Fla.
The Lady Hawks (15-10), who close out their first season at the NCAA Division II level within the Gulf South Conference on Saturday at Alabama-Huntsville, will receive a first round bye in the seven-team regional. The winner of the South Region Tournament receives an automatic bid to the NCCAA Women’s Basketball Division I Championship set to take place March 13-16 at Grace College in Winona Lake, Ind.
In Lakeland, Shorter highlights a field that includes three of the Lady Hawks’ former Southern States Athletic Conference rivals — Emmanuel, Southern Wesleyan and Truett-McConnell — in addition to host Southeastern and NCCAA members Pensacola Christian and Bob Jones University.
Second-seeded Emmanuel will square off with seventh-seeded Bob Jones in Monday’s first quarterfinal and will be followed by No. 3-seeded Southern Wesleyan taking on sixth-seeded Truett-McConnell.
The Lady Hawks will face the winner of Monday’s matchup between No. 4-seeded Southeastern and No. 5-seeded Pensacola Christian on Tuesday, March 5 at 7 pm.
The NCCAA South Region Championship is scheduled to tip at 6 p.m. on March 6.
The Lady Hawks hope to build on what has already been a successful first season for Shorter in the NCCAA.
In the fall, Shorter’s men and women’s golf teams each posted third place finishes at the NCCAA Golf Championships while Shorter’s volleyball team won the South Region and advanced all the way to the NCCAA Volleyball National Championship match.
Just several weeks ago, the Shorter women’s track and field team kicked off the winter championship season by capturing the NCCAA Women’s Indoor Track and Field national title, giving Shorter its ninth team national championship in school history.
Shorter’s men’s basketball squad also figures to be seeded No. 1 in the South Region heading into its NCCAA South Region Tournament, which is set to take place March 7-9 at Emmanuel. Those pairings are expected to be released later this week.
For the Lady Hawks, the NCCAA postseason is a chance to continue what has been an exceptional debut season in the NCAA Division II ranks.
Shorter enters Saturday’s regular season finale with a 15-10 overall record and in fourth place in the 10-team Gulf South Conference with a 10-7 league mark. Shorter’s 10 GSC wins include sweeps of league leader Union and third place North Alabama and the Lady Hawks have won two straight heading into this weekend’s showdown with UAH.
Shorter’s roster features just two seniors — forwards Shelby Farrer and Chelsi Matthews — as two juniors and a sophomore lead a Shorter team that came into this season having lost seven seniors and six of its top seven scorers from a 28-win team in 2011-12.
Junior Karisma Boykin has enjoyed a productive all-around season, pacing the Lady Hawks at 12.0 points per game while also averaging 4.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.8 steals. Junior Kristin Nash is hitting for 10.5 points per contest and sophomore Ieshia Alexander has come on strong in the second half of the season to average 9.4 points each time out.
Farrer has had arguably her best season since being named SSAC Freshman of the Year in 2009-10. The senior from Rome is averaging 8.0 points and a team-high 8.0 rebounds. She is the only player to have started all 25 games.