Clarksville, Ark.-The University of the Ozarks women's basketball team will enter the American Southwest Conference Championship Tournament as the No. 4 seed from the East Division and will face Howard Payne University Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Brownwood, Texas.
Howard Payne (18-7, 15-6 ASC), the No. 1 seed from the West Division, will host the eight-team tournament February 25-27. The winner of Friday night’s game will play Saturday at 4:30 p.m. The championship game will be held Sunday at 2:00 p.m., with the winner receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA III National Tournament.
A playoff-clinching win over Texas-Tyler on Saturday put Ozarks (14-11, 10-10 ASC) in the tournament for the first time since the 2006-2007 season. In just his second year at Ozarks, Head Coach Carl Ramsey has not only led the Lady Eagles to post-season play, but also guided the program to its first winning season in nearly a decade.
“Making the playoffs is a huge stepping stone for the program,” said Ramsey. “We’ve had a lot of firsts this year. A year ago we were eliminated from playoff contention in December. Our goal from day one this year was to go to the playoffs. Making the playoffs has created a lot of excitement within our program. Now we have to turn that focus around and not be complacent with just being there.”
Ozarks started the season 6-0 before suffering a four-game losing skid. Ozarks then played well late in the year, capped by winning four of its last five games to qualify for the playoffs. Ozarks was the top three-point shooting team in the ASC this season, hitting eight per game and making over 36 percent of its shots from long-range. Ozarks also led the conference in assists per game (17.5). Junior center Sabrina Goddard leads the team in scoring (15.4), rebounding (7.9) and blocked shots (3.0). Junior guard April Young is averaging 11.4 points per game and has made 56 three-pointers. Junior guard Lacey Phillips is the league-leader in assists (5.0) while scoring 9.0 points per game. Starting point guard Chelsea Glasscock has made 42 three-pointers and collected 38 steals while junior forward Ashley Teague is averaging 8.1 points per game.
Howard Payne won a share of the ASC West Division title this season and the right to host the tournament. Howard Payne won the NCAA III national championship in 2008 and has claimed conference titles in four of the last six seasons, including the last time it hosted the ASC event in 2007. The Lady Jackets have a league-best .789 winning percentage (15-4) in the tournament. Ozarks defeated Howard Payne on a buzzer-beater in Clarksville November 29, but the Lady Eagles lost on a last second shot in Brownwood last season. Ironically, it was Howard Payne that defeated Ozarks the last time it made the playoffs.
The Lady Jackets are led by Brittany Roberson, who is averaging a team-best 13.8 points per game. Clarissa Krum is the team’s top rebounder (5.9), while Tiffany Warner is the top three-point shooter (39). Howard Payne averages 72 points per game while allowing just 59.
“Howard Payne is a great team,” said Ramsey. “They are rich in tradition. Head Coach Joshua Prock does an outstanding job with them. They are bigger than us and will probably start three girls over 6-feet. We will have to neutralize that size by hitting some outside shots. And we have to make sure we get on the boards with them. We’ll need to make up our lack of size with effort and intensity. We will have to do things right every trip down the floor.”
The game will be carried locally on KXIO 106.9 FM. The entire eight-team, single elimination event will be available for fans through free live video streaming with audio provided by Howard Payne and the ASC. The conference will have a “Tournament Central” page on www.ASCsports.org where the link to video can be accessed as well as links to live stats, live local radio feeds, box scores, game recaps, photos and updated brackets.
ASC Championship Tournament
Friday, February 25
Game 1: [E1] Louisiana College (22-2) vs. [W4] Mary Hardin-Baylor (16-9), 12:00 p.m.
Game 2: [W2] Hardin-Simmons (18-6) vs. [E3] Mississippi College (17-8), 2:30 p.m.
Game 3: [E2] Texas-Dallas (20-5) vs. [W3] McMurry (16-9), 5 p.m.
Game 4: [W1] Howard Payne (18-7) vs. [E4] Ozarks (14-11), 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, February 26
Game 5: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 2 p.m.
Game 6: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 4:30 p.m.
Sunday, February 27
Game 7: Semifinal winners, 2 p.m.
ASC Tournament Notes:
-Admission prices for each day will be $6 for adults and $3 for students/seniors. No complimentary pass lists will be accepted.
-The only returning All-Tournament Team selection from 2010 is Most Valuable Player Tillisha Givens of Louisiana College.
-This is the 13th season the ASC has sponsored a women’s basketball championship tournament.
-Teams from the West Division hold an 11-1 advantage in ASC titles won.
-The host team has won five overall titles.
-The hosting rights of the tourney rotate from West to East each year.
-The last two championship games have gone to overtime.