The St. Thomas women’s basketball team will face Calvin College for its first-round NCAA Division III tournament game 5 p.m. Friday at Cornell College (Iowa), the NCAA announced Monday during its online selection show.
Calvin (23-3), currently ranked No. 3 by D3hoops.com, is a familiar opponent. The Tommies (22-5) faced the then-No. 1-ranked Knights in this season’s opener and lost 78-72 in the Millikin (Ill.) Tournament.
Last season, St. Thomas defeated Calvin 83-72 in overtime to advance to the Final Four.
Guard Kellie Ring said she was “shocked” to see Calvin as her team’s first-round opponent.
“We’re very excited to play them again,” Ring said. “Our last two games against them have been close and we expect the same for this one”
Calvin received an at-large bid after losing 62-59 to No. 2-ranked Hope College in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament championship.
Senior Carissa Verkaik leads the the Knights, averaging 19.9 points per game and 9.1 rebounds per game. She’s the program’s leading scorer and the MIAA’s leading scorer.
Ring said St. Thomas will “need to contain Verkaik.”
“She does a lot on the court for them so it will have to be a team effort,” Ring said.
The winner will face either Cornell (24-1) or St. Scholastica (13-14) Saturday for a second-round matchup.
The national semifinals and championship game will hosted by Hope College in Holland, Michigan March 15-16.
Concordia-Moorhead received an at-large bid, the only MIAC team to do so. The Cobbers (21-6) will face Wisconsin-Stevens Point (23-5) Friday at Simpson College (Iowa).