Game Preview: Mount Union Plays Guilford in NCAA Women's Basketball First Round Friday

Game Preview: Mount Union Plays Guilford in NCAA Women's Basketball First Round Friday

2016 NCAA Tournament - First Round

Mount Union Purple Raiders (20-7) vs. Guilford (N.C.) Quakers (21-5)
When: Friday, March 4 - 5 p.m.
Where: Connor Convocation Center (Crestview Hills, Ky.)
Radio: WRMU 91.1 FM - Listen Online
Tickets: $6 adult / $4 student (at door gates open 4 p.m.)

Game Notes (.pdf): Mount Union | Guilford

How They Got Here

Mount Union won the Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament championship and claimed the conference's automatic bid to NCAA Tournament. The OAC is one of 44 conferences that receive automatic bids into the tournament. Guilford finished second in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference and was awarded one of 20 national al-large bids to the NCAA Tournament.

NCAA Tournament History

Mount Union will be making its seventh NCAA Tournament appearance, first since 2012, and the Raiders have a 16-6 record in tournament games with five sectional (sweet 16) and two final four appearances. The Raiders lost in the national championship game in 1996 and finished third in the nation in 1998.

Guilford is making its fifth NCAA Tournament appearance, first since 2013, and the Quakers are 2-4 all-time in tournament games.

The Series

This is the first-ever meeting between the teams.

The Coaches

Suzy Venet is 197-106 in her 11th season at her Alma mater. Venet was an All-American and played on two NCAA Final Four teams for the Purple Raiders and is the OAC's all-time assists leader. A three-time OAC Coach of the Year and two-time Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year, she has led Mount Union to four OAC Tournament titles, two OAC regular season titles and four NCAA Tournament appearances. She was an assistant coach at Minnesota State-Mankato then got her first heading coaching job at Manchester (IN) College. Including her season at Manchester, her career coaching record is 208-122.

Stephanie Flamini is 205-143 in her 13th season as head coach at Guilford. She has led her squad to four Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) Championship final appearances in the past five years, with two league titles and a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances. She is the 2016 ODAC Coach of the Year. In 16-plus seasons as a head coach her career record is 263-184.

Common Opponent

The teams do have a common opponent this season in Meredith (N.C.). Guilford opened the season with a 69-49 win on Nov. 15 at Meredith while Mount Union defeated Meredith 77-62 on Dec. 29 at Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, Tenn. Against teams in this year's NCAA Tournament, Mount Union is 0-3 losing to LaRoche and twice to Ohio Northern while Guilford is 2-2 with a win over Denison, a loss to Stevens (N.J.) then split a pair of games with Lynchburg (Va.).

Projected Mount Union Starters

11 Annie Bova G 5-5 Sr. Parma Heights, Ohio/Beaumont 18.9 ppg, 3.6 rpg

12 Shayna Panchik G 5-5 Sr. Natrona Heights, Pa./St. Joseph 2.0 ppg

22 Bella Pecchia F 5-11 So. North Ridgeville, Ohio/North Ridgeville 6.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg

23 Katie Reed G 5-7 Sr. Alliance, Ohio/Marlington 12.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg

24 Abby Wemhoff F 5-8 Sr. Kent, Ohio/Kent Roosevelt 4.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg

Dynamic Duo

Mount Union senior Annie Bova was named OAC Player of the Year, OAC Tournament MVP and to the All-OAC first team while fellow senior Katie Reed was named to the All-OAC second team and the All-OAC Tournament team. They both average double figures in scoring as Bova is second in the OAC in scoring at 18.9 ppg while Reed averages 12.2 ppg and duo account for 44-percent of Raiders' 70.7 points per game which leads the OAC in scoring. Bova has 1,421 career points which is sixth-best all-time at Mount Union and right behind her coach as Suzy Venet scored 1,528 for the Raiders from 1994-98.

Guilford has its own dynamic duo in junior forward Anais Weatherly and sophomore guard Lauren Ramsey. Weatherly was named the the All-ODAC first team leads Guilford in scoring (15.5 ppg.), rebounding (9.5 rpg.) and assists (2.5 apg.) and has 12 double-doubles on the season. Ramsey, an All-ODAC third team is second on the team in scoring (11.0 ppg) and tied for the team lead in assists per game (2.5 apg).

Dialing Long Distance

Mount Union is 10th in the nation (431 programs ranked) in three-pointers made with a school-record 220 this season. The Raiders hit 34.7 percent of its shots behind the arc as a team which is 29th in the nation. Freshman guard Rachel Tinkey and Katie Reed are among the top-20 three point shooters in the nation. Tinkey hits an OAC-best 45.1-percent of her three's while Reed right behind her in the conference rankings at 42.7-percent.

Seven For Seven

Head coach Suzy Venet has been a part of all seven of Mount Union's NCAA Tournament appearances. Venet played for the Raiders during a sweet 16 tourney trip in 1995, a national title game appearance in 1996 and a third place finish in 1998. She has coached the Raiders to now four NCAA Tournament trips getting to the sweet 16 in both 2010 and 2012. The number seven has been around a lot this season -- seventh NCAA Tournament, seven seniors playing for the Raiders and the OAC coaches picked Mount Union seventh in the conference's preseason coaches poll.

Up Next ...

The winner will advance to the second round Saturday night and play the winner of a first round matchup between host No. 1 ranked Thomas More and LaRoche (Pa.).

Thomas More (Crestview Hills, Ky.) is 27-0 and the defending national champions have won 60-straight games. The Saints are in the tournament for a 14th time after winning the Presidents Athletic Conference title for a 10th straight year. Thomas More is 20-12 all-time in tournament games.

LaRoche (Pittsburgh, Pa.) is 24-3 and in the tournament after winning the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference title for a sixth straight season. The RedHawks are making their sixth tournament apperance and are 0-5 in their previous five trips. One of those five losses was a 73-63 defeat at Mount Union in NCAA First Round game in 2012. LaRoche beat the Purple Raiders at home earlier this season, 68-56, on Nov. 24.

The sectionals will held March 11-12 with four sites with four teams per site then the final four teams will play semifinals March 19 at The Capital Center at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio.

The two semifinal winners will play the championship game on Monday, April 4 in Indianapolis, Indiana as all three divisions will play their respective title games together to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the women's basketball championship.