UT Tyler women set for debut in NCAA tourney

The UT Tyler seniors go to midcourt on Sunday to accept the American Southwest Conference women’s basketball tournament championship trophy. The seniors are (from left) She’Cara Humphrey (Pittsburg), Danai Woods (Lafayette, La.), Breann McMillan (Arlington) and Taylor Murphy (Springdale, Ark.). The Patriots compete in the NCAA Division III Tournament for the first time Friday in Memphis, Tenn. (Lang White | Correspondent)

While Memphis, Tenn., has Graceland, Beale Street and Mud Island, the UT Tyler Patriots are all business.

The Patriots are appearing in their first NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Tournament on Friday as they meet Maryville (Tenn.) College in a first round matchup at Mallory-Hyde Gymnasium on the Rhodes College campus in Memphis.

No. 17 UT Tyler (25-3) and the Lady Scots (22-6) meet at 5 p.m. Friday. The second game matches No. 18 Rhodes (24-3) against Spalding (Ky.) (16-10) at 7 p.m.

The Lady Scots are coming off a 64-50 loss to Ferrum (Va.) in the USA South Conference championship final. They received an at-large bid.

Maryville features USA South Player of the Year Mackenzie Puckett, who is averaging 15.1 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.

Host Rhodes College (24-3) is a familiar opponent for the Patriots, as the Lynx defeated UT Tyler 80-70 earlier this season in Tyler.

Spalding College is coming off a 60-58 win over Webster in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Conference, earning an automatic bid into the tournament for the first time in school history.

The winners of the games Friday will face off at 5 p.m. Saturday, with a trip to the sectionals at stake on March 14.

The Patriots are led by junior center Brittany King and senior center She’Cara Humphrey, who were first-team All-American Southwest Conference. Senior guard Danai Woods was named to the third team. Freshman guard Mackenzi May was selected to the freshman team and junior guard Teylor Seals received honorable mention.

King led the ASC with 12 double-double performances and is the only player in the league to average a double-double per game. She led the league in rebounds (10.3), ranked fourth in scoring (17.0) and 16th in NCAA Division III in field goal percentage (.572). King pulled down a league-best 288 rebounds and is the only player in the conference with more than 100 offensive and defensive rebounds.

Humphrey ranked fifth in field goal percentage (.530) and eighth in scoring (14.6). Woods led the ASC in assists (137) and was selected to the ASC Defensive Team after swiping 52 steals, which tied for sixth in the league.

In his first two years with the Patriots, coach Kevin Baker has a combined record of 43-12 and has led the Patriots to their first-ever NCAA appearance. The Patriots, who set a team record in conference (20) and overall wins (25), are one of just three ASC teams to reach the 20-win mark.

The Patriots earned an NCAA bid by defeating Mary Hardin-Baylor 68-56 in the ASC championship on Sunday.

PATRIOT POINTS: Admission to the games is $6 for adults and $3 for children. … The winner of the regional will meet the winner of the Crestview Hills, Ky., regional, which is hosted by No. 1 Thomas More (28-0).

Game Schedule:

Friday, March 7

Game 1: UT Tyler (25-3) vs. Maryville (Tenn.) (22-6), 5 p.m.

Game 2: Rhodes (Tenn.) (24-3) vs. Spalding (Ky.) (16-10) at 7 p.m.

Saturday, March 8:

Game 3: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 at 5 p.m.


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Sports Editor

I am a native Tylerite and I grew up reading the Tyler Morning Telegraph and The Tyler Courier-Times. My parents took both the morning and afternoon papers. I came to work here 35 years ago at the age of 23, right after college.