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2014-03-07 TigerBall returns to NAIA National Tournament
2014-03-07 TigerBall returns to NAIA National Tournament

Photos by: Kelly Haymes

TigerBall returns to NAIA National Tournament

Author: Wendy Reid
Posted: Friday, March 07, 2014 at 9:14 AM

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – The four seniors of the Olivet Nazarene University women’s basketball team will make their fourth trip to the NAIA National Tournament, thanks to a TigerBall version of the Cinderella Story in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament. On Wednesday, March 5 the Tigers learned they would face Concordia University (Neb.) on Wednesday, Feb. 12 at 8:30 a.m. at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa. 

The Tigers (22-10) entered the CCAC Tournament as the No. 2 seed out of the South Division. The CCAC proved itself to be one of the strongest conferences in the country, with three-teams ranked in the top-25 of the NAIA Coaches Poll and two more receiving votes, including the Tigers. Olivet would open tournament play at home against the other team receiving votes, the defending CCAC Regular Season and Tournament Champions from Roosevelt University. Both teams knowing that the loser would more than likely see their season come to an unexpected early end.

With a packed house of fellow athletes in attendance, the Tigers and the Lakers battled it out. A total of 62 fouls were called in the rough contest, with four players fouling out and one leaving the game with an injury. With 4.7 seconds on the clock and the score tied, the Tigers put the ball in the hands of senior point guard Miranda Geever (Moline, Ill.) who took the inbound pass, pushed the ball across half court and challenged the Laker defender to make the first move. As time ticked off the clock, Geever drove the lane and connected on a layup to put the Tigers up by two, and draw the foul. The Lakers were fouled on the rebound of the missed free throw, but were unable to connect at the charity stripe to tie the game.

Two nights later, the Tigers would face No. 5 Saint Xavier University (Ill.) in the semifinals on the road at Purdue University – Calumet (Ind.). Olivet found themselves behind the Cougars for the majority of the game, before finally tying the game with seven minutes to play. The score would jump back and forth for the remainder of the game. With just second on the clock, and the score tied, it was like déjà vu for the Tigers as once again Geever drove the ball from end-to-end to score the game-winning basket as time expired. The win sent the Tigers to the CCAC Championship game against the regular season champion Peregrines of Purdue University-Calumet and earned them an automatic bid to return to the NAIA National Tournament. Olivet ran out of steam in the finals, falling 77-87.

TigerBall has been led all season by their four seniors: Geever, Malory Adam (Aurora, Ill.), Liz Bart (Cary, Ill.) and Taylor Haymes (Wentzville, Mo.). The foursome has scored a total of 4,791 points together in four years, each reaching the 1,000 point milestone this season.

Geever currently lead the NAIA Division II in steal (127) and steals per game (3.969). She leads the Tigers in points (617), points per game (19.3) and assists (158). She scored her 1000th career point on November 26, 2013 in the win over the University of Saint Francis (Ill.). She is shooting 228-of-456 from the field (.500) and 129-of-171 (.754) from the free throw line.

Bart is averaging 15.9 points per game, having scored 494 points thus far on the season. She is ranked first in the NAIA Division II in three-point field goals made per game (4.545) and total three-point field goals made (141). She is shooting 141-of-364 (.387) from behind the arc. She earned her 1000th career point on December 20, 2013 in a win over Madonna University (Mich.).

Adam ranks third in the NAIA Division II in total three-point shots made (108) and sixth in total blocks (91) and three-point field goals made per game (3.375). She is third on the Tigers with 431 points this season, averaging 13.5 points per game. She reached the 1000 career point milestone on February 26 in a win over Roosevelt University in the quarterfinals of the CCAC Tournament.

Haymes ranks 11th in the NAIA in total three-pointers made (89). She enters the national stage averaging 10.4 points per game, shooting 101-of-293 (.345) from the field and 89-of-260 (.342) from behind the arc. She adds 49 assists and 54 steals for the Tigers, while pulling down 95 rebounds on the season. She reached the 1000 point mark just minutes before Adam on February 26.

The Bulldogs earned their way to Sioux City with by virtue of an at-large bid. Playing in the tough Great Plaines Athletic Conference (GPAC), Concordia fininshed the season 25-7 overall and 16-4 in conference play. The Tigers and the Bulldogs have not faced one another since Nov. 12, 2004, a long time ago, under different head coaches. The Bulldogs came away with the win that day, 107-54. Olivet has faced two other teams from the GPAC this season, falling to then No. 12 Briar Cliff University in the season opener 107-121 and No. 3 Morningside University the next day 88-131.

The Bulldogs are led by GPAC Player of the Year junior Bailey Morris. Morris, a 5-4 guard, led the GPAC with 19.39 points per game. She also led the Bulldogs in assists at 4.03 per game. Junior Tracy Peitz, a 5-10 guard, leads Cornerstone in rebounds (6.00), steals (2.53) and blocked shots (0.50).

The Tigers look to avenge last year’s opening round exit, an 80-90 loss to Concordia University (Mich.).

NeuLion, the NAIA’s official video streaming company of 17 select NAIA National Championship events, will be broadcasting the first 28 games from Sioux City. An all-tournament pass (28 games) is available for $29.95, while a single day pass can be purchased for $9.95. For more information and to pre-register, click here.

For a complete bracket, click here.