BW Dominates OAC Tournament, Will Host NCAA Tourney

Home court advantage is real, just ask any member of the No. 9 nationally ranked Baldwin Wallace Yellow Jackets Women’s Basketball team.

The team hasn’t been beaten inside the Ursprung Gymnasium yet, having won 15 consecutive games on their home floor and now get to host a minimum of one game in the NCAA Tournament. With their success last week, the Yellow Jackets are now riding a 12-game winning streak into the NCAA Tournament and are three wins away from another Sweet Sixteen appearance, but also shattering the previous team record of 28 wins in a season.

The team swept their way through the OAC Tournament, leaving behind a trail of teams including Otterbein, Marietta and cross-town rival John Carroll. BW held opponents to just 54 PPG, on 37.3% shooting, throughout the three-game tournament winning each game by an average of over 25 points.

Offensively, over the three games BW had seven different players score in double digits at least once, with Riley Schill and Hannah Fecht being named to the All-Tournament team. Fecht also earned the honor of tournament MVP, scoring 43 points in three games on 14-19 shooting, and sinking 88% of her three-point shots over the three-game stretch.

Their best defensive effort came against Marietta in the semifinals, as the Yellow Jackets broke down the Pioneers, holding them to just 41 points on 15-51 shooting.

In the championship game, BW raced out to a 15-5 lead over JCU, something they hadn’t been able to do against John Carroll in the previous two matchups this season. The 17-point win over the Blue Streaks was the final step in avenging the Yellow Jackets only OAC loss of the season, which came at the hands of John Carroll on Jan. 22.

As a mat

ter of fact, BW’s toughest matchup of the tournament, where they were the top seed, came against the lowest seeded team in the tournament in the quarterfinals.

Otterbein stormed into the Ursprung Gymnasium, holding the Yellow Jackets to just 11 first quarter points, and built up a 14-point lead going into the second quarter. BW stormed back, holding the Cardinals to just eight points in the second quarter, taking the lead, and outscoring them by 42 points after the first quarter.

Head coach Cheri Harrer knew that her team just needed to find their groove, “That’s been our theme all year long – just do us the best we can and keep getting better. If we do that, the scoreboard will take care of itself,” Harrer said. “This time of year is as much about the intangibles as the X & O’s, player leadership, team and individual confidence, aggressiveness, how hard teams are willing to play, how together a team is. All those things are just as important as the tactical things.”

BW’s last 11 quarters of tournament action saw them outscore their opponents by 85 points, setting up the championship win and their berth into the NCAA Tournament where the Yellow Jackets play host for the first time since 2008.

Haverford (PA), La Roche (PA) and the University of Chicago (IL) will travel to Berea for the first two rounds of action, making up a four-team pod that consists of four conference champions.

BW matches up with Haverford, the back-to-back Centennial Conference champions after their win against Gettysburg. Haverford’s only match up with a ranked team came on Feb. 8 when they snuck out a three-point win over (then ranked) No. 19 Gettysburg. This will mark the first time Haverford even travels to Ohio, but Harrer knows her team still has knowledge on the opponent, “.  We actually have video access to all of our opponents’ games so we will know quite a bit about them before we play.  By playing a great schedule and playing in such a high quality league – we have seen a lot of styles of play.  We’ve gone against pressing, pack-line D, zones, etc. We’ve defended dribble drive, teams that rely on lots of sets, high speed O and ‘slow it down’ teams,” Harrer said. “Our team was in a great place with those things during the conference tournament and our goal would be for that to continue into the NCAA tourney.”

Harrer knows the advantages that hosting a tournament game can bring, “Our team really feeds off the energy from our fans. Our players are pumped to be at home,” Harrer said. “It’s nice to not have a long bus ride, but even bigger is the fact that our fans help us have a home-court advantage. With spring break starting we hope we can have a great crowd bringing the noise this weekend anyway.”

BW and Haverford are scheduled to tip off at 7:00 on March 6.