Women's Basketball to Open NCAA Division III Tournament at Baldwin-Wallace

SPRINGFIELD, Ohio - For the first time in five years, the Wittenberg University women's basketball team is headed for the so-called "Big Dance," the NCAA Division III Women's Basketball Tournament. The Tigers found out Sunday that they will be on the road in the 2003 competition, starting with a game at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 5. The winner of the Wittenberg at Baldwin-Wallace game Wednesday earns a date with seventh-ranked Wilmington in the second round on Saturday.

Wittenberg, which has a 24-4 overall record and a perfect 16-0 NCAC mark already to its credit in 2002-03, is back in the NCAA tourney for the first time since 1998 and the seventh time in school history. The Tigers have a 1-6 record in NCAA tournament action, dating back to their first appearance in 1989.

"We are very proud to have earned this opportunity," said Wittenberg Head Coach Pam Smith, who has a 325-133 career record in 17 seasons at Wittenberg, her alma mater. "Baldwin-Wallace is a very strong program, so this will be a tough challenge. It is something we are really looking forward to."

Baldwin-Wallace has been ranked in the national top-20 and the regional top-five all season while finishing second in the Ohio Athletic Conference regular season and tournament competitions to Wilmington. The Yellow Jackets, who carry a record of 24-4 into the postseason, defeated Wittenberg at home 79-53 on Dec. 3.

Wittenberg earned the berth in the national competition by virtue of a 72-58 win over Ohio Wesleyan in the 2003 North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament championship game Saturday. Currently riding a 19-game winning streak dating back to Dec. 30, the Tigers won the NCAC Tournament for the sixth time since joining the conference prior to the 1988-89 season.

The Tigers' success in 2002-03 can be traced in large part to a phenomenal defensive effort that continually forces opponents into an average of 41 percent shooting from the field and a whopping 27 turnovers per game, compared to 19 for Wittenberg. Individually, senior guard Kate Rolf (Ft. Wayne, Ind./Carroll), a two-time All-NCAC selection and the 2003 NCAC Tournament MVP, leads the way with 11.6 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. Senior guard Stephanie Campbell (South Charleston, Ohio/Southeastern) checks in with 11.1 points and 3.7 rebounds per game and senior forward Tiffany Keller (Massillon, Ohio/Tuslaw), a three-time All-NCAC volleyball player, averages 9.0 points and 3.5 rebounds per game.