FERRUM, Va. -- The Ferrum College women’s basketball team earned an automatic qualifier into the 2012 NCAA Division III Tournament after winning the USA South Tournament. The NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Selection Committee has placed Ferrum in a pod at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, Friday and Saturday, March 2-3.
Also in the pod are Guilford (N.C.) College and Washington (Mo.) University in St. Louis. The Panthers (23-5) will take on Washington U. (20-5) at 5:00 p.m. EST, while Centre (24-3) and Guilford (22-6) face each other in the other game at 7:00 p.m.
Wash-U earned an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament after finishing second in the University Athletic Association this season. The Bears were the 2011 NCAA Div. III national runner-up, and won the national title in 2010.
Wash U is led by Dani Hoover and Melissa Gilkey, who average 11.2 and 10.6 points per game, respectively. Gilkey is the Bears’ leading rebounder at 7.0 per game, while Bethany Morris is the team’s assist leader with 4.0 per game. Wash U averages 65.1 points per game and allows opponents 56.2 points per game.
USA South Tournament MVP Tesla Akers leads the Panthers in scoring with 13.9 points and 3.5 assists per game. Kristen Keith, who earned a spot on the USA South All-Tournament Team, is Ferrum’s second-leading scorer with 12.1 points per game and the top rebounder at 7.2 rebounds per game. Jacole Hairston is averaging 10.2 points per game and Katy Kipps is averaging 8.9 point and 5.4 rebounds. The Panthers are scoring at a 77.7 points per game clip, while holding opponents to 62.7 points per game.
Ferrum’s 23-5 record has set a new school record for season wins. The previous record of 21 wins was set in 2007 and equaled in 2012, in which the Panthers finished 21-7 both seasons.
This is Ferrum’s second-ever NCAA Tournament appearance. The Panthers advanced to the playoffs in 1995 after winning the conference tournament title, then the Dixie Conference. Ferrum fell 87-70 to Roanoke College at home in the first round of the NCAA playoffs, closing out the season at 18-9.