WALLA WALLA — Whitman College on Sunday was selected to host a sectional round of the NCAA Division III women’s basketball tournament, meaning the seventh-ranked Missionaries continue their playoff odyssey at the Sherwood Athletic Center this weekend.
Whitman (28-1) host 20th-ranked Christopher Newport (24-5) at 7 p.m. Friday in a sectional Sweet 16 game.
Top-ranked and undefeated Thomas More (30-0) takes on 17th-ranked Texas-Tyler (27-3) in the other sectional at 5 p.m. Friday in Sherwood Center.
The winners of Friday’s games face off at 7 p.m. Saturday at Sherwood for a berth in the NCAA Division III national semifinals.
“What a privilege it is to host this sectional round of the NCAA III women’s basketball championship,” Whitman Director of Athletics Dean Snider said. “Our college and the community of Walla Walla really stepped up to make the first round an amazing event. That success went a long way in earning us this bid.”
Tiffani Traver scored 17 points, and Heather Johns and Sarah Anderegg added 15 points apiece as Whitman beat Northwest Conference-rival Whitworth 73-67 in a second-round tournament game on Saturday to advance to the sectional round of 16 for the second consecutive season.
The win was career victory No. 200 for Whitman head coach Michelle Ferenz.
The Missionaries reached the Elite Eight last season, a feat they can duplicate by winning on Friday.
“I am so pleased for our team to be able to play in front of their families and friends this week,” Snider said. “Sherwood Center was one of the best basketball venues in the nation Saturday night. I anticipate it will be again this weekend.”
Whitman opened the national tournament with its most prolific scoring performance of the season, routing Chapman 106-51 behind Anderegg’s 25-point, 10-rebound double-double.
The Missionaries’ ensuing victory over Whitworth avenged their lone defeat of the season, a loss to the Pirates in the conference tournament championship game.
This is the second consecutive weekend that Sherwood Center will showcase a multitude of nationally-ranked teams. Last weekend included the seventh-ranked Missionaries, 14th-ranked George Fox and 24th-ranked Whitworth. The sectional pod at Sherwood will feature four nationally-ranked teams, including No. 1 Thomas More and its sophomore guard, Sydney Moss.
Moss, the daughter of former NFL wide receiver Randy Moss, set the NCAA Division III record for single-game scoring when she poured in 63 points against Waynesburg University in a President’s Athletic Conference tournament semifinal on Feb. 28.
“We do this for the players of all participating teams. They have earned this with hard work and commitment,” said Snider. “We will put on the best event we can to honor the students of each team.”