Westmont College (24-7) was seeded No. 2 in the Naismith Bracket of the 2019 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship. The tournament will be held at the Rimrock Auto Arena in Billings, Montana.
The Warriors, who were ranked 8th in the final NAIA Coaches’ Poll, will open play on Wednesday, March 13 against the Generals of Louisiana State Alexandria (21-7). Tip-off is scheduled for noon local time, 11:00 a.m. PST.
The tournament is played over the course of seven days with first round games taking place on Wednesday and Thursday, second round on Friday, quarterfinals on Saturday, semifinals on the following Monday and the championship game on Tuesday.
This year marks Westmont’s 14th trip to the national championship including 12 of the last 13 years. Westmont won the national championship in 2013 and was runner-up last year, falling to Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) in the championship game. Westmont has a record of 18-12 in national tournament play.
The Freed-Hardeman Lions (31-2) are the top seed in the Naismith Bracket and a potential opponent for Westmont in the quarterfinals if both teams win their first and second round games. However, the that is not on the minds of the Warriors who have their focus set on their first round opponent – LSU Alexandria.
The Generals compete in the Red River Conference where they finished second in the conference standings, two games behind Our Lady of the Lake (Texas). Seeded second in the conference tournament, the Generals were upset in the semifinals by LSU Shreveport (15-13), falling to the Pilots 69-54.
LSU Alexandria ranks ninth in the NAIA in scoring, averaging 78.36 points per game. That sets up a showdown between the offensive-minded Generals and the defensive-minded Warriors, who rank second in the NAIA in points allowed (49.97).
Sophomore guard-forward Danuale Bayonne leads LSU Alexandria in scoring, averaging an NAIA-seventh best 19.8 points a game. Kelsey Thaxton, a freshman guard, adds another 16.5 points per game while junior guard Courtney Dawsey contributes 12.9 points per game.
The two teams are tied at fifth in the NAIA in preventing 3-point scoring. Both have allowed their opponents a success rate of just 25.4 percent from beyond that arc. Westmont ranks fourth in the NAIA offensively from long range with a 38.0 three-point field goal percentage. LSU Alexandria makes 32.7 percent of its three-point attempts, which ranks 25th.
The Generals and Warriors do not have any common opponents this season. The Generals have a record of 2-1 against top-25 teams with wins over #12 Our Lady of the Lake (Texas) and Loyola (La.). Westmont has a record of 8-5 against top-25 teams with wins against #5 The Master’s (two), #6 Wayland Baptist, #19 Menlo (two) and #21 Arizona Christian (three).
The Westmont-LSU Alexandria winner will take on the winner between #9 William Penn of Iowa (30-2) and #23 Lewis-Clark State of Idaho (20-11) in a second-round game.
Six teams from the Golden State Athletic Conference received invitations to the 32-team tournament. Fifth-ranked The Master’s (26-6) is the second seed in the Cramer Bracket where #13 Vanguard (22-9) is the fourth seed. #21 Arizona Christian (21-11) is the sixth seed in the Duer Bracket. #19 Menlo (20-9) and William Jessup (20-10) will play in the Liston Bracket with Menlo as the fifth seed and Jessup as the seventh seed.