Clarksville, Ark.-The University of the Ozarks women's basketball team will enter the American Southwest Conference championship tournament as the No. 3 seed out of the ASC East division and will face Howard Payne University on February 24 at 7:30 p.m. in Clinton, Mississippi.
Head coach Kelly Stutz has led Ozarks into the playoffs in just her second season at the helm of the Lady Eagles’ program. Ozarks is in post-season play for the first time since the 2001-2002 season. “We are not just excited about being there, we are going there with a purpose,” said Stutz. “The whole excitement about being in the tournament, in my opinion, isn’t just that we got there. It’s that the winner gets an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Our focus is that we want to win it and move on. I think that should be your goal in any tournament.” Ozarks enters post-season play with 12-13 overall record and an 11-11 league mark. “We are looking at this as a whole new season,” said Stutz. “It has everything to do with what happens from here on out. The girls are excited and I’m real happy for them, especially for the seniors. It always comes back to the players. They are the ones that work hard every day in practice and the ones making the plays in the games. I couldn’t be happier for them. They deserve it.” Ozarks dropped a 74-59 decision to Howard Payne on December 3, 2005, in Brownwood, Texas. Howard Payne (22-3, 19-3) comes into the eight-team tournament as the No. 2 seed out the West division. “Howard Payne is good,” said Stutz. “They are tough. They are playing well and are the best defensive team in the league. It will be a challenge. Any time you get into any post-season play, you will always play good teams. There is no weak team on your schedule. So, we have to play well to win, just like they have to play well to beat us. We will be better prepared this time around for the zone defense they run.” The ASC Championship tournament will be held at Mississippi College, the winner of the ASC East division, on February 24-26. The winner of the tournament receives an automatic bid to the NCAA III tournament.