Women basketball earn bid to national championship

The Hastings College women’s basketball team finished their conference season with crucial back-to-back wins against Dordt College. On Feb. 27, the Broncos received an at large bid to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship.

“We started to get healthy towards the end of the season and that helped us tremendously. Also, I felt like we were playing with a sense of urgency the last six weeks of the season,” said women’s head coach Jina Douglas. “We knew we had to go on a run to end the regular season in order to make the National Championship and we played like it.”

The season started off strong for the Broncos, getting their first major win back on Dec. 8 against eighth-ranked Morningside College. After that win, the Broncos hit a roadblock due to injuries to All-American point guard Shandra Farmer and junior transfer Kennedy Sander. HC had a setback against their in-state rival Doane University, losing 68-62.

HC was able to bounce back after the Doane loss and went 8-1 to finish off the regular season. The Broncos then went into the GPAC postseason tournament as the fifth seed, and went on the road to get a clutch win over Dordt College, 66-63. The Broncos then went on to face the number one seed, Concordia University. The Bulldogs flexed their offensive muscles, shooting 48.6 percent from the floor. Hastings dropped the game 89-66.

“I didn’t think we had a ton of fight in the semifinals and that was the most disappointing part of it. With our team, you can clearly see when we are ready to play compared to when we are not ready to play. The takeaway from the Concordia game is we have to be focused and ready to go from the tipoff,” Douglas said.

Hastings College made a run in the NAIA Championship last year, making it all the way to the quarterfinal round. The Broncos have 11 returning players from last season’s squad, so they are comfortable with the National Championship.

“I do think we can be really good defensively at times, and we need to take that to the National Championship. Hopefully our experience of being in that type of environment before will help us this year,” Douglas said.

Hastings is one of four teams to receive a three-seed for the National Championship. They will face off against the number six seed, Aquinas College, from Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Aquinas College Saints are from the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference, (WHAC) where they went 25-8 on the season and 16-4 in the WHAC.

These two teams faced off earlier this season back on Nov. 23 in the C3 Hotel Thanksgiving Classic. Hastings rolled past the Saints 76-61, led by Shandra Farmer’s 24 points and six steals.

“Honestly we are not focused on how we performed against them last time because we are two completely different teams at this point in the year. Tournament time brings out the best in people. We are focused on playing up to our potential,” Willicott said.

Hastings College will make their 6thconsecutive National Championship appearance in Sioux City, Iowa – tipoff is set for 3:30 p.m.