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Warriors Face Carroll in NAIA’s First Round

No. 19 Westmont enters tournament as fifth seed in bracket.

No. 19 Westmont will face off against No. 13 Carroll (Mont.) in the opening round of the NAIA National Tournament on Wednesday in Jackson, Tenn. Westmont (21-8) is the fifth seed in its bracket, Carroll (25-5) is seeded fourth.

"Every team in the national tournament is a good basketball team," said head coach Kirsten McKnight. "We knew that in any (first round) matchup we would need to play our best basketball in order to win. Carroll is a very good team. They have perennially been one of the best teams in the country.  I don’t know much about them yet but we have had some common opponents."

Carroll played two Golden State Athletic Conference teams this season, defeating Hope International, 73-60, in early November and losing to No. 9 Azusa Pacific, 48-60, in December.  Westmont defeated Hope twice (62-54 and 77-61) and split with Azusa, losing the first game in Azusa, 63-69, and winning at home, 69-41.

The only other common opponent was Montana State Northern, whom the Warriors defeated, 55-48.  Carroll split with Montana State Northern.

"We know from their statistics that they are a great three-point shooting team," McKnight said. "They have an incredible shooter in Jolene Fuzesy, who shoots 57 percent from the three-point line. ... Hopefully that will be a good match-up with our pressure defense."

Fuzesy, a senior guard who averaged 20.4 points per game, made 108 of 189 three-point attempts this season and is believed to hold the three-point collegiate career record (all associations) with a total of 456 baskets from beyond the arc.

Danielle Maloney, another senior guard, is the second leading scorer for the Fighting Saints, averaging 10.9 points per game.  Carroll’s four leading scorers are all listed as guards.  Sophomore Elly Bruursema is averaging 9.6 while senior Caitlin Courchaine has posted 9.5 points per game.

Sophomore post player Hannah Heidenreisch is averaging 7.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game to lead Carroll’s inside game.

Carroll finished second in the Frontier Conference with a record of 11-3. No. 10 Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) defeated Carroll in the conference tournament to earn an automatic bid.

Four other GSAC teams will participate in the national championship: GSAC champion Point Loma Nazarene and Azusa Pacific, The Master’s and Vanguard.

Ron Smith is Westmont College‘s sports information director.

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