Turns out, the University of Puget Sound women’s basketball team did not have to hold its collective breath for very long in finding out where — or if — it was going in the NCAA Division III tournament.
Watching a closed-circuit televised broadcast of the selection show, the 18th-ranked Loggers were the third school revealed Monday morning — and will face Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champion Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (24-3) on Friday at 5 p.m. PDT in the opening round.
At least UPS (23-4) will be familiar with the site — the Wheeler Sports Center in Newberg, Oregon. It is the home court of undefeated Northwest Conference champion George Fox, which will host the four-team playoff.
“We are excited to go right down the road where we have been twice already this season,” Loggers coach Loree Payne said. “It is comforting to get that (a familiar site) in the excitement of the national tournament where a lot of different emotions come into play.”
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UPS is also somewhat familiar with the Athenas. The two teams played a non-conference game last season in Tacoma, in which the Loggers won, 86-65, in November of 2013.
“They are an up-and-running team, and that is what we do,” Loggers forward Amanda Forshay said. “I remember from last year they are a good team with a lot of weapons. And clearly they are really good (this season) — they made it to the NCAA tournament.
“Now that we know who it is, we can start preparing.”
On a 20-game winning streak, the Athenas rolled through the SCIAC. They also won their conference tournament a week ago, defeating Redlands in the semifinals, and California Lutheran in the finals.
Claremont averages 62.5 points per game with senior guard Kimberly Scamman as the team’s leading scorer at 15.8 points per game. Sophomore forward Kris Brackmann, a Mercer Island High School grad, is second at 12.9 ppg.
The UPS-Claremont winner will face the George Fox-Penn State-Abington winner in the second round Saturday at 6 p.m. The Loggers have lost to the NWC rival Bruins three times this season — the most recent coming in a 66-61 loss in the conference championship game Saturday.