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Friends women prepare for national tournament opener

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, March 5, 2013, at 8:07 p.m.

It wasn’t hard to find motivation in the back-to-back losses the Friends women’s basketball team suffered in late December.

All the Falcons had to do was remember where they were — Sioux City, Iowa, also the site of the NAIA Division II Tournament.

It’s where Friends finds itself once again after winning a second straight KCAC regular-season title.

The losses in Sioux City to No. 1 Morningside and Briar Cliff, both tournament teams, sparked the Falcons on a 15-game winning streak.

“The experiences, last year and earlier this season, will hopefully help us understand the level of teams we’re going to face,” Friends coach RaeAnne Boothe said. “We know what it’s like to play the number one team in the country. We know what to expect outside of basketball (at the national tournament) with volunteering at the Special Olympics and the banquets.”

Friends (23-8) earned the seventh seed in its pod and faces Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference champion Roosevelt (27-6) in Wednesday’s first round at 5:30 p.m.

Roosevelt won both the CCAC’s regular-season and tournament titles and is 10th in the nation in scoring at 78.5 points. Friends is fourth in the nation in defense at 53.5 points.

Casey Davis leads Roosevelt at 17.0 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.

“They have shooters, they have drivers, they have post players … they’re very athletic,” Boothe said. “They’re more athletic than what we might usually see in our conference. We don’t want the score to get into the 80s by any means, because we’ve only scored over 80 twice this season … but that’s what (Roosevelt) wants to do. They don’t run any sort of half-court offense, the first open look they get is usually when a shot is going up.”

Friends is led by a pair of unanimous All-KCAC picks in senior center Abril Marshall (11.7 points) and senior guard Inekka Stevenson (9.9 points).

Another KCAC team, Southwestern (23-7), takes on Eastern Oregon (31-2) at noon. Eastern Oregon is on a 25-game winning streak.

McPherson men face No. 1 William Penn -- KCAC Tournament champion McPherson (15-17) takes on No. 1 William Penn (30-1) on Wednesday at 1:45 p.m. in the NAIA Division II Tournament at Point Lookout, Mo.

“We knew, with a losing record, that we would be either the 31st or 32nd seed out of 32 teams,” McPherson coach Tim Swartzendruber said. “I’m proud of the way our guys have never given up this entire season. I’m a firm believer that success leads to confidence and they’ve had some success.”

KCAC regular-season champion Saint Mary’s (27-8) faces St. Xavier (28-5) at 9:45 p.m. on Wednesday.

Reach Tony Adame at tadame@wichitaeagle.com or 316-268-6284.

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