Women’s Hoops to Face Ohio Wesleyan in First Round of NCAA Tournament

Posted on March 1st, 2023 by

SAINT PETER, Minn. — Following their MIAC Championship victory, the Gustavus women’s basketball team (25-2) is set to take on Ohio Wesleyan (18-10) in the opening round of the NCAA Championships at 5:15 p.m. Friday. The four-team regional round is hosted by UW-Whitewater with the host Warhawks taking on Webster at 7:45 p.m. Friday. The winners Friday will face each other at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, with the winner advancing to the round of 16.



The Gusties are set to make their second straight NCAA tournament appearance and ninth overall (1991, 95, 2003, 07, 08, 17, 18, 22). In NCAA Tournament games, the Gusties hold an all-time record of 3-8.

Last season, after earning the conference’s automatic qualifier to the national tournament, the Gusties fell to Simpson 73-67 in the first round. The 2017-18 season marked the last time the Gusties competed at UW-Whitewater for the NCAA Tournament. The Gusties went on to upset the Warhawks at home by a score of 74-60, advancing to the Sweet 16 before coming up short against Thomas More, 75-67.


Friday’s opening round game against Ohio Wesleyan marks the first time the two programs will meet on the court. The Gusties, if they were to win, would face either UW-Whitewater or Webster in the second round. A matchup against the host Warhawks would be the third in program history, with the teams each owning one victory, while Webster would be another first-time opponent for the Golden Gusties. Gustavus enters the game on a win streak of 17, ranked No. 9 in the nation in the latest d3hoops.com national poll, and holding a No. 11 spot in the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) DIII poll.

The Bishops enter the series with an 18-10 overall record and 10-4 record in the North Coast Athletic Conference, winning the conference title for the first time since the 2008-09 season. This will be the Bishops seventh playoff appearance and first in 14 years. OWU had their best NCAA run in the 2000-01 season, finishing third overall.


The Gusties have put together a pair of impressive offensive performances in the postseason, setting a new conference record in the MIAC Semifinal against Saint Benedict totaling 97 points in the game. Against Concordia in the MIAC Championship, Kylie Baranick (So., Maple Grove) set a new career best with 24 points in the game, a season high for the team as well. Anna Sanders (Sr., Vadnais Heights) leads the Gustie scoring, averaging 13.3 ppg, while Baranick sits at 10.7 and Emma Kniefel (Jr., Medford) at 10.4. Grace Benz (Sr., Steele, N.D.) and Rachel Kawiecki (So., Richfield) have led the Gusties’ rebounding efforts, with Benz leading overall with 186 and 119 defensive, while Kawiecki’s 83 offensive rebounds lead the team and the conference. Sanders leads the team in steals with 75, good for second-best in the MIAC, while Baranick’s 100 assists are best on the team and best in the MIAC. Her assist/turnover ratio of 3.33 ranks sixth in the NCAA this season, while Sanders’ 3-point percentage of 44.4% is second best in Division III. The Gusties boast seven NCAA-leading team statistics, including the third-best 3-point percentage (37.3%), fourth-best assist/turnover ratio (1.31), and fifth-best field goal percentage (46.1%).


The Bishops offensive efforts have been led by junior Kasey Schipfer, who leads Ohio Wesleyan in virtually every offensive category. Schipfer averages 18.2 ppg with 509 on the season, and has led the Bishops rebounding efforts as well, averaging 8.6 rpg, leading both the offensive and defensive end. Schipfer led the NCAC in seven statistical categories this season, and earned the conference’s Most Outstanding Playoff Player award for her performance in the postseason. Schipfer scored 22 points and added 11 rebounds for the double-double to send the Bishops to the national tournament with a championship victory of 79-71 over Oberlin, posting her 11th double-double of the season and eclipsing the 1,000-point marker with 1,015 in her career. OWU’s Elizabeth Homan ranks fifth in the NCAA in assists this season with 158, averaging 5.6 per game. Lauren Denison is the Bishops’ resident 3-point shooter, putting up 54 on the season for a percentage of 36.7% (54-for-147). Denison also leads the team in blocks at 10 this season. OWU is coached by Stacey Ungashick Lobdell, in her 12th season at the helm for the Bishops with an overall record of 141-163.


Anna Sanders has hit 63 3-pointers this season and is three shy of breaking the program record for 3-pointers in a season held by Mikayla Miller (2017-18). Sanders is also 10 steals shy of tying the program record for steals in a single season, notching 75 so far. The record is currently held by Kendall Thompson, who posted 85 in the 2018-19 season. The Gusties are one win away from breaking the program record for wins in a season, previously set in the 2016-17 season with a record of 25-3.


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