The NCAA Division III women's basketball tournament trail will take the Hope College Flying Dutch to Wilmington, Ohio for sectional competition next Friday and Saturday (March 8-9).
The four-team sectional tournament will feature teams from Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Texas. They will be seeking to advance to the final four to be held the weekend of March 15-16 in Terre Haute, Ind.
The Flying Dutch (27-2) will meet the host Wilmington Quakers (27-1) in the second game (7:30 p.m.) of Friday's semis. It will be preceded by a 5:30 p.m. contest between DePauw, Ind. (23-3) and Hardin-Simmons, Tex. (26-1).
Wilmington, Ohio is a community of 12,000 and the college has an enrollment of 1,000. The city is located within a "golden triangle" anchored by Dayton 35 miles to the northwest, Cincinnati 60 miles to the southwest and Columbus 65 miles to the northeast.
Hope advanced to the sectional by defeating Thomas More, Ky. 87-76 on Saturday afternoon. Coach Brian Morehouse's Flying Dutch are competing in the NCAA tournament for the fifth time in school history. Hope won the national championship in 1990.
Wilmington, which defeated Bethany, W.Va. 83-66 on Saturday, is appearing in the NCAA tournament for the second time. The first was in 2000 when the Quakers advanced to the second round as a member of the Heartland Conference.
This will be a first-time meeting of the Flying Dutch and Quakers. Both teams are conference champions, Hope from the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) crown and Wilmington from the Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC).
The teams have played two common opponents. Each defeated Manchester, Ind. by wide margins, Hope 104-48 and Wilmington 95-50. The Quakers won their own season-opening tournament by defeating Calvin of the MIAA 68-52 while the Flying Dutch defeated their conference rival three times during the season.
Both colleges have religious roots, Wilmington founded in 1870 and still operated by the Quakers (Religious Society of Friends) and Hope affiliated since its founding in 1866 by the Reformed Church in America.
DePauw University, located in Greencastle, Ind. with an enrollment of 2,050, was champion of the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference. The Lady Tigers are making their fourth appearance in the tournament, the first since 1999 when the team advanced to the sectional semi-finals.
Hardin-Simmons University is located in Abilene, Texas with an enrollment of 2,125. The Cowgirls, who were champions of the American Southwest Conference, are appearing in the NCAA tournament for the fourth consecutive year and have advanced to the sectional tournament each previous year. Last season the Cowgirls lost in the sectional semi-finals to Baldwin-Wallace, Ohio.