Going into the MIAA Tournament, the top-seeded Jennies were the favorites to come out as champions and solidify their resume to host a regional ahead of the NCAA tournament.
The final regional rankings from the NCAA put the Jens in the number one spot, fresh off clinching the MIAA outright and avenging their only conference loss against Pitt State to close the season. Winning the tournament would likely be enough to bring the NCAA Tournament to Warrensburg, but eventual champions Lindenwood stunned the Jens in the quarterfinal 75-66. The early loss lowered the chances of hosting the regional and Augustana took advantage of it running the table in the Northern Sun tournament to host the central regional in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
The loss to Lindenwood marked the Jennies largest margin of defeat all season and came after they lead by seven points at half. Sophomore Megan Skaggs lead all scorers with a career-high 25 points on 4-6 shooting from three-point range. The performance was Skaggs’ third consecutive game in double figures.
The early exit puts the Jens in a precarious position going into the regional as the second seed on nearly a week of rest. When given this much time away from competition, teams are met with the challenge of staying motivated and ready to play.
“I think we’re very determined to win even though our time in the conference tournament was cut short,” Sophomore Morgan Fleming said.
The Jennies headed to Sioux Falls Wednesday to take on the seventh seed, Minnesota State-Moorhead Dragons this weekend in the first round of an eight-team tournament that will send its champion back to Sioux Falls the following weekend for the Elite Eight at Sanford Pentagon. The previous year’s central regional featured this same matchup, but the sixth seed Jennies prevailed over the third-seeded Dragons 56-45. The Dragons return three starters from their 2017 campaign and finished 23-5 following a 59-56 upset loss in the Northern Sun semi-finals to Sioux Falls.
“We were looking forward to hosting (the regional), but we’ve played really well on the road this season,” Fleming said. “Maybe not being the number one seed can drive us to win three games there, so we can come back next weekend.”
The Jennies rematch with Moorhead in the first round of the regional is scheduled for Friday with a 3:30 p.m. tip. The game will be broadcasted by 1450 KOKO and 98.5 The Bar in Warrensburg and host school Augustana will broadcast the entire regional tournament through their Stretch video portal.