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Off To The Frontier

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Published
March 10, 2010
By
Justin Raftery

AZUSA, Calif. – Azusa Pacific will play its fifth game of the season against a team from the Frontier Conference when the Cougars open up their seventh straight NAIA Tournament appearance with the final game of the first round, a matchup with seventh-seeded Montana Tech. The matchup is scheduled for Thursday, March 18, with a 9:45 p.m. (Central) tip-off at Oman Arena in Jackson, Tenn., and it is the last of 16 first-round games in the 30th Annual NAIA Women’s Basketball National Championship.

Azusa Pacific, the Golden State Athletic Conference co-champion, was given a No. 2 seed in the NAIA’s bracketed-quarter format in which 32 teams are seeded 1 through 8 within each quarter of the tournament bracket. The 32-team field includes 3 other GSAC teams (Vanguard, Point Loma Nazarene, Biola), as well as Frontier Conference tournament champion Lewis Clark-State, which defeated the Cougars in both meetings between the teams this season. Azusa Pacific opened the 2009-10 season with road wins over 2 other Frontier Conference members, Montana State-Northern and Great Falls.

Azusa Pacific shared the GSAC regular-season crown with Vanguard, the GSAC tournament champion, going 18-2 in conference play for the Cougars’ first conference title since 2002. Azusa Pacific played 9 games against teams in this year’s NAIA Tournament field, going 5-4 in those games. The Cougars split the season series with No. 1-seeded Vanguard and No. 2-seeded Point Loma Nazarene, won a non-conference matchup on a neutral court against No. 1-seeded Oklahoma City and swept the regular-season series against Biola, a No. 5 seed which takes on Lewis-Clark State in a first-round matchup.

Montana Tech, which finished third in the Frontier Conference, picked up an at-large bid to advance to the program’s first-ever NAIA Tournament. The Orediggers, 19-9 overall, posted an 8-6 Frontier Conference record that included a regular-season series sweep of Lewis-Clark State. First-team All-Frontier Conference senior guard Jessie DePell averaged 15.6 points per game to lead Montana Tech, and junior forward Taesha Higbee, who averaged 12.5 points and a team-high 6.9 rebounds per game, also represented the Orediggers on the all-conference first team.

Click here for the complete NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship bracket.

Thirty-one games will be played in Jackson as part of the NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship. The first 30 games will be video-streamed by NeuLion, the parent company of JumpTV. Three different subscription plans for basketball (Men's and Women's Division I; Men's and Women's Division II) will be available for tournament coverage. Users can purchase the All-Tournament pass, which includes every event offered on College Sports Direct from all four basketball championships for $39.95. Each of the four basketball championships can be purchased separately for $24.95 and any single day can be purchased for $9.95. Visit www.watchNAIA.com to purchase a subscription plan and view live tournament video.