The 15th ranked Lady Statesmen are making the NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Playoffs for the ninth consecutive year. The Lady Statesmen have six national championships in their history with three of them coming in Division II (1989, 90 and 92).
Delta State (24-5, No. 4 seed) will begin the playoffs on Friday in the first round of the South Region Tournament, as the team will play the Albany State University Lady Rams in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on the campus of Nova Southeastern University (20-6, No. 5 seed) at 6:30 p.m. CST/7:30 p.m. EST.
The Lady Statesmen enter the region with the top scoring defense in the country as they’ve given up just 53.5 points per game. Defense will be a huge key for DSU as the team prepares for the postseason.
Delta State head coach David Midlick, who is in his second season as head coach of the Lady Statesmen, said the team is ready for Friday.
“Going into the tournament, I still like the way we’ve been playing,” Midlick said. Monday. “We’ve got to get back to playing better defensive basketball and be able to get a lot of loose basketballs and that’s what we did today. We had a good defensive physical practice with the team.”
In the Gulf South Conference Tournament, Delta State’s Seneca Walton and Chelsey Rhodes made the all-tournament team, but the Lady Statesmen got some great production out of Shanae Govan and Anissa Jackson.
“Shanae did a really good job scoring for us off the bench, and she’s done a good job of guarding the perimeter person at half court. I thought she did have a good tournament, and she did it even being a little under the weather. I can’t say enough about Shanae. To me, she is the valuable part of our team, and she keeps us together.”
Albany State enters the tournament with a tough defensive squad of its own by giving up just 58.3 points per game, which puts the team eighth in the nation in scoring defense. The Lady Rams are led by freshman forward Artisha Holston, who is currently averaging 14 points and 10.3 rebounds per game.
“They have a really good post player,” Midlick said. “They have a freshman of the year in the post, and she’s really been a tough person to guard for other teams in the SIAC. They have some big guards that can get to basket and get offensive rebounds. We’ll just try to negate those two things.”
The ultimate goal is to win the national championship. Even though the Lady Statesmen have six in their history, they haven’t won one in 22 years.
With the region being single elimination, Midlick said game every game could be the last.
“It’s a one game tournament each day,” Midlick said. “All the teams play on Friday and you just want to win one game. You want to go 1-0 that day. Your season could be over and everything is magnified. I think the players have to understand that. I don’t think you need to run from that or duck from that. You have to be playing you best basketball this time of the year.”
The winner of the DSU-Albany State game will play the winner of the Benedict-Nova Southeastern game on Saturday at 4 p.m. CST/5 p.m. EST.