Bryan faces Indiana Tech
DAYTON, Tenn. – For the second straight year, the Bryan College women’s basketball team will head to Sioux City, Iowa to compete in the 27th annual NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship after punching their ticket by defending their 2017 title and becoming back-to-back Appalachian Athletic Conference Tournament champions.
The opening round matchups were decided Wednesday evening when the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics officially announced the 32 qualifiers and bracket for the tournament, presented by Mercy Medical Center and Seaboard Triumph Foods. In the Liston Bracket, the Bryan Lions will meet with the Warriors of Indiana Tech University at the Tyson Events Center on Wednesday, Mar. 7 at 9:30 a.m. ET.
The tournament begins on Mar. 7, and the Championship game is slated for Mar. 13.
Indiana Tech enters the national tournament 29-4 overall and finished first in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference, taking the conference regular-season crown with an 18-2 mark in the WHAC. The Warriors came up short in the WHAC Tournament finale 72-69 to Cornerstone University (Mich.). In the final NAIA Div. II Coaches’ Top-25 Poll, Indiana Tech finished with a No. 9 ranking in the country.
The Warriors rank at the top in the NAIA statistically in the following categories:
- Ranks Number 3 in Division II in Scoring Defense per Game (54.970)
- Ranks Number 3 in Division II in Field Goal Pct Defense (0.342)
- Ranks Number 5 in Division II in Scoring Margin (24.909)
- Ranks Number 5 in Division II in Total Rebound Offense (1378)
- Ranks Number 7 in Division II in Total Scoring Offense (2636)
- Ranks Number 7 in Division II in Assist/Turnover Ratio (1.240)
- Ranks Number 8 in Division II in Defensive Rebounds per Game (29.667)
- Ranks Number 8 in Division II in Total Assists (574)
- Ranks Number 9 in Division II in Field Goal Pct (0.458)
- Ranks Number 10 in Division II in Assists per Game (17.394)
- Ranks Number 12 in Division II in Scoring Offense per Game (79.879)
- Ranks Number 13 in Division II in 3-Pt Fg Pct Defense (0.278)
- Ranks Number 16 in Division II in Total 3-Pt FG Made (265)
- Ranks Number 17 in Division II in Total Rebound Margin (6.576)
- Ranks Number 19 in Division II in Turnover Margin (4.394)
- Ranks Number 19 in Division II in Total Rebounds per Game (41.758)
- Ranks Number 23 in Division II in 3-Pt Fg Made per Game (8.030)
- Ranks Number 26 in Division II in Total Blocks (100)
- Ranks Number 26 in Division II in 3-Pt Fg Pct (0.345)
- Ranks Number 28 in Division II in Total Rebound Defense (35.182)
- Ranks Number 32 in Division II in Total Steals (299)
- Ranks Number 43 in Division II in Blocks per Game (3.030)
- Ranks Number 50 in Division II in Free Throw Pct (0.713)
Bryan, which is ranked No. 23 in the final poll, will be making a national appearance after battling for a 25-9 overall record, 19-5 AAC record, and topping No. 25 Reinhardt University (Ga.) in the conference tournament championship game where the Lions dominated the Eagles 75-68. Reinhardt will also be representing the AAC in Sioux City after defeating the Lions in a playoff game that decided the automatic bid between the Co-Regular-Season champions.
It should be an interesting showdown between an Indiana Tech side that has one of the best defenses in the nation, especially behind the arc, while Bryan has demonstrated this season to be one of the most explosive offensive squads in the entire NAIA. The Lion’s efficient shooting from the perimeter ranks them in the top-10 in three-point percentage, total three-pointers made, and three-pointers made per game. Their total scoring offense is 10th-best in the country. While the Warriors on average have surrendered only 54 points per game to their opponents, the Lions have clawed their way to an average of 77 points per game scored. It will be a true clash of elite offense versus elite defense.
The Lions rank at the top in the NAIA statistically in the following categories:
- Ranks Number 3 in Division II in 3-Pt Fg Pct (0.391)
- Ranks Number 4 in Division II in Total 3-Pt FG Made (344)
- Ranks Number 7 in Division II in 3-Pt Fg Made per Game (10.118)
- Ranks Number 10 in Division II in Total Scoring Offense (2616)
- Ranks Number 11 in Division II in Total Assists (542)
- Ranks Number 16 in Division II in Scoring Margin (13.794)
- Ranks Number 19 in Division II in Assist/Turnover Ratio (1.013)
- Ranks Number 19 in Division II in Assists per Game (15.941)
- Ranks Number 19 in Division II in Scoring Offense per Game (76.941)
- Ranks Number 19 in Division II in Total Rebound Offense (1284)
- Ranks Number 21 in Division II in Free Throw Pct (0.746)
- Ranks Number 26 in Division II in Total Steals (316)
- Ranks Number 28 in Division II in Field Goal Pct (0.422)
- Ranks Number 30 in Division II in Defensive Rebounds per Game (27.912)
- Ranks Number 38 in Division II in Turnover Margin (1.882)
- Ranks Number 43 in Division II in Total Rebound Defense (36.091)
- Ranks Number 47 in Division II in Steals per Game (9.294)
- Ranks Number 47 in Division II in Field Goal Pct Defense (0.385)
- Ranks Number 50 in Division II in Total Rebound Margin (2.735)
Indiana Tech has the slight edge in tournament appearances with eight compared to Bryan’s seven. The Warriors have gone 3-5 all-time at the event, while the Lions are 1-6.
Bryan will be led by AAC Freshman of the Year and All-Conference 1st Team member Karli Combs (FR/Rutledge, Tenn.) and two other 1st Team honorees in Amber Levi (JR/Dayton, Tenn.) and Deandra Luna (FR/Sparta, Tenn.). All-Freshman team selection Shayla Ludy (FR/Ringgold, Ga.) will also help bolster the team’s offensive firepower, while All-Defensive Team Tonesha Allison (JR/Shelbyville, Tenn.) will provide a strong stopping force and aid on the boards.
Combs, a dominating sharpshooter, was the Lion’s leading scorer this season, averaging 13.9 points per game. Combs is the AAC’s 3rd-highest scorer this season, totaling 473 points. Combs’ deadly precision from deep ranks her nationally at 6th in total three-pointers made (106), 9th in three-point percentage (46.1), and 9th in three-pointers made per game (3.1).
Levi ranks 4th in the AAC in total scoring (449 points), 10th in scoring per game (13.2), 9th in three-point field goal percentage (36.3), 8th in three-pointers made per game (2.0), and 5th in total three-pointers made (70).
Along with tying Levi as the second-highest scorer for Bryan, Luna has commanded the squad at the point guard position and worked her way to becoming No. 1 in the AAC’s assists column. Her playmaking ability has given way to her ranking 6th in the NAIA in total assists (170) and 10th in assists per game (5). She’s also proved herself from long-range, ranking 11th in the AAC with 52 total made, 13th averaging 1.53 three’s per game, and is 40.3 percent accurate from three-point range which is 3rd-best in the conference and 40th-best in the NAIA.
Ludy worked her way to becoming the 4th-highest scorer for the Lions, producing 333 total points and 10.1 points per game. Her total scoring ranks her 15th in the AAC and scoring per game at 19th. Her total three-pointers made is 13th-best in the conference and three-pointers made per game ranks 16th (1.49).
Allison’s quick hands have helped her nab a team-high 57 steals while also recording the team’s 2nd-most blocks at 11. Her 227 total rebounds and 6.7 boards per game average leads the team and ranks top-10 in the AAC. In addition to her defensive role, she’s chipped in 53 assists, 5.6 points per game, and shot 45.1 percent on the year.