NCAA PREVIEW: Warriors, Tommies Meet For Sweet 16 Berth

NCAA PREVIEW: Warriors, Tommies Meet For Sweet 16 Berth

RV Wisconsin Lutheran (27-1)
vs.
No. 2 St. Thomas (27-1)

Game No. 29 | NCAA Tournament Second Round | Saturday, March 2, 2019 | 7:00 p.m.
Schoenecker Arena (2,000) | St. Paul, Minn.

Stats | Video
Directions | Digital Program | Bracket

IT'S TOURNAMENT TIME: Wisconsin Lutheran College will face second-ranked and regional host St. Thomas (27-1) in the second round of the 2019 NCAA Division III Women's Basketball Championship Tournament Saturday, March 2 at 7:00 p.m. on the campus of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. The winner of tonight's regional final advances to next weekend's Sweet 16 at a site to be determined. Tickets to the game are $7 for adults and $4 for students and seniors.

LIVE COVERAGE: Regional host St. Thomas will provide live stats and video coverage for Saturday's regional final matchup. All links are accessible at WLCSports.com.

WISCONSIN LUTHERAN UPDATE: The Warriors advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division III Women's Basketball Championship Tournament for the third time in program history after their 48-40 win over 17th-ranked Illinois Wesleyan Friday night. One of just five one-loss teams in NCAA Division III, Wisconsin Lutheran has been receiving votes in the D3hoops.com Top 25 poll each of the past three weeks. WLC leads the country in scoring defense (45.1), having held opponents to 50 or fewer points in 22 games this season. The Warriors also rank fourth in three-point field goal defense (23.2), eighth in scoring margin (23.8), 11th in assist-turnover ratio (1.18), and 18th in field goal percentage (44.6). Wisconsin Lutheran is led by two-time NACC Player of the Year Jen Dowden, who averages 16.0 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.8 steals per game. The four-time First Team All-NACC selection became the program's all-time leading scorer with 1,744 career points in last Saturday's tournament championship win over Concordia Wisconsin. NACC Defensive Player of the Year Maddie Cruz averages 3.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 1.4 steals per game. First Team All-NACC performer Maddy Elrod ranks third on the team in scoring at 9.4 points and leads the team with 6.2 rebounds per game. Lexi Reinke, a Second Team All-NACC selection, averages 6.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, and a team-high 3.8 assists and 2.3 steals per game. Fifteenth-year head coach Klay Knueppel won his 300th career game Friday, February 22 and earned his fourth conference Coach of the Year award. The Warriors, who have won 30 straight home games, have run off separate winning streaks of 11 and 16 games en route to their best record in school history.

HEAD COACH KLAY KNUEPPEL: Four-time NACC Coach of the Year Klay Knueppel is in his 15th season as head coach of the Wisconsin Lutheran College women's basketball program. He enters Saturday's contest with an overall collegiate coaching record of 302-112. Knueppel, the third head coach in program history, spent 12 seasons (1992-2004) as an assistant with the Warriors before being named head coach in 2004. Knueppel has guided WLC to seven conference championships and eight NCAA Tournament appearances. He entered the season 28th among winningest active coaches in Division III with a .712 winning percentage.

WISCONSIN LUTHERAN'S LAST GAME: The Warriors faced no more than a two-point deficit all game long in their 48-40 first round win over No. 17 Illinois Wesleyan Friday night. WLC used a 13-2 run over the third and fourth quarters to build a game-high 10-point lead with 7:07 to play. Amanda Brug tied a career high with 15 points off the bench to lead three players in double figures. Kelly Tramburg and Jen Dowden scored 11 and 10 points, respectively, and Lexi Reinke pulled down 12 rebounds. WLC held the Titans to just 30.2 percent shooting and 36.5 points below their season average.

WLC'S ROAD TO THE NCAA TOURNAMENT: The Warriors garnered the top seed in the NACC Tournament for the second straight season after posting a 19-1 record in league play. WLC defeated fourth-seeded Dominican 69-41 in the semifinals to advance to the NACC Tournament Final. Three players scored in double figures, led by Jen Dowden with a team-high 15 points and Maddy Elrod added a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds. In Saturday's tournament final, Dowden scored a season-high 30 points and grabbed a season-high 11 rebounds in a 67-47 win over third-seeded Concordia Wisconsin last Saturday in the NACC Tournament Final. Lexi Reinke and Kelly Tramburg added 12 and 11 points, respectively.

NACC SUCCESS: Wisconsin Lutheran has experienced great success since the NACC formed in 2006-2007. In 13 seasons, the Warriors have compiled a 209-37 record in conference play and have finished either first or second in the standings 11 times. WLC has won seven NACC regular season titles and has captured the conference tournament title eight times in the last nine years.

2018-2019 – 19-1
2017-2018 – 18-2
2016-2017 – 15-5
2015-2016 – 16-4
2014-2015 – 18-2
2013-2014 – 19-1
2012-2013 – 17-0
2011-2012 – 17-1
2010-2011 – 16-2
2009-2010 – 12-6
2008-2009 – 15-3
2007-2008 – 14-4
2006-2007 – 13-6

NCAA TOURNAMENT HISTORY: Wisconsin Lutheran is making its 10th NCAA Tournament appearance in program history and owns a 3-9 record on the national stage. The Warriors won their first-ever NCAA Tournament game in 2011, a 73-59 triumph over UW-La Crosse in the first round. WLC posted its biggest NCAA Tournament win in 2015 with a 70-67 overtime upset win over No. 10 Wheaton.

03/01/19 – RV Wisconsin Lutheran 48, No. 17 Illinois Wesleyan 40
03/02/18 – No. 9 Chicago 70, RV Wisconsin Lutheran 46
03/04/16 – Wartburg 65, Wisconsin Lutheran 49
03/07/15 – No. 14 Hope 72, Wisconsin Lutheran 47
03/06/15 – Wisconsin Lutheran 70, No. 10 Wheaton 67 (OT)
03/07/14 – No. 2 Hope 60, RV Wisconsin Lutheran 54
03/01/13 – No. 22 UW-Whitewater 68, RV Wisconsin Lutheran 48
03/02/12 – No. 5 Calvin 59, Wisconsin Lutheran 47
03/05/11 – No. 7 Illinois Wesleyan 84, RV Wisconsin Lutheran 69
03/04/11 – RV Wisconsin Lutheran 73, UW-La Crosse 59
03/05/03 – No. 1 UW-Eau Claire 70, Wisconsin Lutheran 49
03/01/00 – No. 13 UW-Oshkosh 64, Wisconsin Lutheran 38

NACC IN THE NCAA'S: Wisconsin Lutheran (2019, 2018, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011) is one of only three teams to represent the NACC in its history at the NCAA Tournament, with Lakeland (2017, 2010) and Concordia Wisconsin (2009, 2007) being the two others. The Warriors won the 2008 NACC Tournament, but did not advance to the NCAA Tournament because the league did not have an automatic bid. The NACC is 4-11 all-time in NCAA Tournament games.

03/01/19 – RV Wisconsin Lutheran 48, No. 17 Illinois Wesleyan 40
03/02/18 – No. 9 Chicago 70, RV Wisconsin Lutheran 46
03/03/17 – No. 5 Ohio Northern 68, Lakeland 36
03/04/16 – Wartburg 65, Wisconsin Lutheran 49
03/07/15 – No. 14 Hope 72, Wisconsin Lutheran 47
03/06/15 – Wisconsin Lutheran 70, No. 10 Wheaton 67 (OT)
03/07/14 – No. 2 Hope 60, RV Wisconsin Lutheran 54
03/01/13 – No. 22 UW-Whitewater 68, RV Wisconsin Lutheran 48
03/02/12 – No. 5 Calvin 59, Wisconsin Lutheran 47
03/05/11 – No. 7 Illinois Wesleyan 84, RV Wisconsin Lutheran 69
03/04/11 – RV Wisconsin Lutheran 73, UW-La Crosse 59
03/05/10 – No. 11 DePauw 79, Lakeland 46
03/07/09 – No. 4 UW-Stevens Point 78, Concordia Wisconsin 58
03/06/09 – Concordia Wisconsin 76, Concordia Moorhead 72
03/02/07 – No. 25 Luther 72, RV Concordia Wisconsin 51

SERIES HISTORY: Saturday's NCAA Tournament Second Round matchup marks the first meeting all-time between the Warriors and Tommies.

WLC VS. THE MIAC: The Warriors have faced just two of the 12 current Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference members in its 35-year history. Tonight's game marks the fourth against a MIAC opponent, all within the last nine years at home, as WLC owns a 2-1 record against the league.

11/19/16 – Bethel 66, Wisconsin Lutheran 51
11/16/12 – Wisconsin Lutheran 58, Hamline 53
11/18/11 – Wisconsin Lutheran 57, Bethel 43

SCOUTING ST. THOMAS: The second-ranked Tommies are in the NCAA Tournament for the seventh straight season and 26th time overall. UST owns a 52-25 all-time record in the tournament, having advanced to the Final Four in 2017 and 2012. St. Thomas capped off a perfect 18-0 conference schedule by cruising through the MIAC Playoffs en route to the league's automatic bid. The Tommies are the nation's top three-point shooting team at 40.3 percent. They also rank second in NCAA Division III in field goal percentage (50.5), fifth in scoring margin (26.4), ninth in field goal percentage defense (32.2), and 10th in scoring defense (49.4). Two-time MIAC Player of the Year Hannah Spaulding leads the Tommies with 17.6 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. She also shoots a team-best 72.1 percent from the floor. Senior guard Lucia Renikoff and senior forward Kaia Porter were also selected to the MIAC All-Conference Team.

ST. THOMAS HEAD COACH RUTH SINN: Ruth Sinn is in her 14th season as head coach at St. Thomas. Under Sinn's leadership, the Tommies have posted a record of 326-80 and have appeared in two Final Fours and three Sweet 16's. UST has posted a 235-51 record in MIAC play under Sinn and has won six MIAC regular season championships and made 10 NCAA Tournament appearances. Sinn was inducted into the Minnesota State Girls' Basketball Coaches'' Association Hall of Fame in 2002 after a 16-year coaching career at Apple Valley High School before arriving at St. Thomas.

ST. THOMAS' LAST GAME: The Tommies defeated Ripon 88-58 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Friday night. Senior Hannah Spaulding led all scorers with 29 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in three quarters to lead St. Thomas. The hosts shot 55 percent from the field and committed only nine turnovers as they connected on nine three-pointers to pull away from the Red Hawks, out-scoring RC 48-29 in the second half. UST has now won 17 straight games and 26 straight inside Schoenecker Arena.

UST'S ROAD TO THE NCAA TOURNAMENT: The top-seeded Tommies played host to the 2019 MIAC Playoffs after posting a perfect 18-0 record in conference play. UST defeated fifth-seeded Gustavus Adolphus 64-39 in the semifinals to advance to the MIAC Championship game. St. Thomas defeated second-seeded Augsburg 73-54, led by Hannah Spaulding's 25 points and 17 rebounds in the title game. It was the Tommies' 10th straight appearance in the MIAC Playoffs Championship game.

STUDYING THE LIKELY STARTERS:

WISCONSIN LUTHERAN
#2 Maddie Cruz, G, 5-4, Sr., New Berlin, Wis./Waukesha West
2018-2019 Stat Snapshot: 3.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.4 spg
#10 Jen Dowden, F, 6-0, Sr., Bonduel, Wis./Bonduel
2018-2019 Stat Snapshot: 16.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 3.1 apg, 1.8 spg
#13 Lexi Reinke, G, 5-11, Sr., Bonduel, Wis./Bonduel
2018-2019 Stat Snapshot: 6.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 3.8 apg, 2.3 spg
#21 Maddy Elrod, F, 6-1, Sr., Conifer, Colo./Conifer
2018-2019 Stat Snapshot: 9.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 0.8 apg, 0.9 spg
#22 Kelly Tramburg, G/F, 5-10, Jr., Fall River, Wis./Fall River
2018-2019 Stat Snapshot: 9.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.1 spg

ST. THOMAS
#10 Lucia Renikoff, G, 5-8, Sr., Minneapolis, Minn./Washburn
2018-2019 Stat Snapshot: 12.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 3.1 apg, 1.0 spg
#12 Kelsie Cox, G, 5-10, So., St. Michael, Minn./Elk River
2018-2019 Stat Snapshot: 3.6 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 0.8 apg, 0.4 spg
#20 Kaylie Brazil, G, 5-4, Sr., Norwood Young America, Minn./Norwood Young America
2018-2019 Stat Snapshot: 7.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.3 spg
#32 Kaia Porter, G, 5-11, So., Roseville, Minn./Roseville
2018-2019 Stat Snapshot: 13.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 2.5 apg, 0.7 spg
#42 Hannah Spaulding, F, 6-2, Sr., Annandale, Minn./Annandale
2018-2019 Stat Snapshot: 17.6 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 1.7 apg, 2.2 bpg