UT Tyler back in Sweet 16, but aiming for much more

University of Texas at Tyler's Michelle Obach makes a basket during their NCAA Division III game against the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs at home at the Herrington Patriot Center Friday March 4, 2016. The Patriots are in the Sweet 16 Friday against George Fox University of Oregon. (Sarah A. Miller/Tyler Morning Telegraph)

The UT Tyler Patriots are in the Sweet 16, but that is not their goal.

They are eyeing the Elite Eight, the Final Four, the Terrific Two and the Wonderful One.

That could be in the future, but for now the No. 5-ranked Patriot women's basketball team is focused on No. 2 George Fox University of Oregon.

The two clubs tangle in NCAA Division III Tournament on Friday. Tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m. at Schoenecker Arena on the University of St. Thomas campus in St. Paul, Minnesota. The other semifinal has host and No. 9 St. Thomas (26-3) meeting Wartburg College (21-7) of Iowa at 8 p.m. The rankings are from USA Today.

The semifinal winners will tangle at 7 p.m. Saturday for the right to advance to the Final Four in Columbus, Ohio.

The Patriots (29-1) and Bruins (29-0) have one loss between them. UT Tyler is on a 21-game winning streak, including five postseason wins. George Fox, which finished national runner-up last year and won it all in 2009, has a 29-game winning streak.

UT Tyler advanced to the Sweet 16 with an 80-58 win over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps of California on Saturday in Tyler. The Bruins were on the road last week, knocking off host Wisconsin-Stevens Point, 62-59, to earn their ticket to the next round. George Fox defeated UT Dallas 77-73 in last year's Sweet 16.

The Patriots were in the Sweet 16 two years ago and are seeking their first Elite Eight appearance.

UT Tyler enters the third round of the NCAA tournament second in the nation with 273 3-pointers and total points (2,522), third in assists (544), fourth in scoring offense (84.1), eighth in free-throws made (453) and scoring margin (19.4 ppg). George Fox is a defensive-oriented team that is fourth in the nation with 411 steals (14.2 per) and is 14th with a 16.8 scoring margin advantage. UT Tyler has its 273 3-pointers while opponents have made 167 and the Patriots own a plus-5.2 rebounding advantage and are eighth in the nation with a 1.20 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Michelle Obach has established herself as one of the most dynamic scorers in program history having already racked up 855 career points in her two seasons with the Patriots. A junior from Tyler, Obach has established the single-season scoring record with 538 points this season to pass former teammate Brittany King who had 537 points last season.

The American Southwest Player of the Year, Obach, a Bishop Gorman graduate, started her collegiate career as a freshman at Merrimack College of Massachusetts before returning to her hometown to play for the Patriots. She is averaging 17.9 points per game this season and has 111 assists and 66 steals through 30 games.

Makenzi May has been one of the nation's top sharpshooters and comes into Friday's game against George Fox with 69 3-pointers (2.3 per game) and with 160 3-pointers in her career. A junior guard from Mont Belvieu, May is joined by D'Onna Matthews and Dia Evans as the only Patriots who played in the Sweet 16 back in 2014.

May is averaging 12.8 points with Matthews (11.2) and Alex Kochner (10.6) right behind. Kochner is tops in rebounding at 7.5.

Matthews is a junior post from San Antonio, while Kochner is a junior from Clear Lake.

Justine Benner, a senior forward from Naches, Washington, leads the Bruins with an average 17.4 points per game and is second in rebounds (6.6). Sammy Naluai, a senior point guard from Sammamish, Washington, averages 11.2 points and 3.4 assists. Kaitlin Jamieson, a sophomore post from Condon, Oregon., leads the team 6.7 rebounds.



NCAA Women's Division III Basketball Glance

All Times Central

Third Round

Friday, March 11

At Crestview, Ky.

Carnegie Mellon (Pa.) vs. Washington (Mo.), 4 p.m.

Thomas More (Ky.) vs. Maryville (Tenn.), 6 p.m.


At Amherst, Mass.

Bowdoin (Maine) vs. Rochester (N.Y.), 4 p.m.

Amherst (Mass.) vs. Stevens Tech (N.J.), 6 p.m.


At Scranton, Pa.

Albright (Pa.) vs. Tufts (Mass.), 4 p.m.

Scranton (Pa.) vs. Christopher Newport (Va.), 6 p.m.


At St. Paul, Minn.

George Fox (Ore.) vs. Texas-Tyler, 5:30 p.m.

St. Thomas (Minn.) vs. Wartburg (Iowa), 8 p.m.



UT Tyler Patriots

Official name: The University of Texas at Tyler

Location: Tyler

Enrollment: 8,862

Nickname: Patriots

Colors: Orange and Navy

Conference: American Southwest

Record: 29-1

Winning Streak: 21

Notes: UT Tyler is one of 14 campuses in the University of Texas system The campus surrounds Harvey Lake in a park-like scene. It was founded in 1971 as Tyler State College. In 1975 it was named Texas Eastern University and joined the UT system in 1979. … UT Tyler offers doctoral studies in Nursing, pharmacy and one of the only PhD programs in Human Resource Development in the United States. … Craig Tiley, CEO of Tennis Australia and Director of the Australian Open, is a UT Tyler graduate. He is also the former tennis coach at Illinois and was Davis Cup captain for his native South Africa.


George Fox Bruins

Official name: George Fox College

Location: Newberg, Oregon

Enrollment: 3,931

Nickname: Bruins

Colors: Navy and Gold

Conference: Northwest

Record: 29-0

Winning Streak: 29

Notes: George Fox is the oldest Christian university in Oregon. In 1885, Friends Pacific Academy was founded. In 1949, because of the many Pacific colleges, the school was renamed George Fox College in honor of the founder of the Friends (Quaker) movement. With its merger with Western Evangelical Seminary in 1996, the college changed its name to George Fox University. … Newberg is located in the Portland metropolitan area, southwest of Portland. In the 2010 census, the city had a population of 22,110. … Herbert Hoover, 31st president of the United States, attended the school before begin admitted to Stanford University.

St. Thomas Tommies

Official name: Universityof St. Thomas

Location: St. Paul, Minnesota

Enrollment: 10,229

Nickname: Tommies

Colors: Purple and Grey

Conference: Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic

Record: 26-3

Winning Streak: 16

Notes: Founded in 1885 on a former farm overlooking the Mississippi River in St. Paul, the University of St. Thomas has grown to be the state's largest independent college or university. A Catholic, liberal arts, comprehensive regional university, UST experienced significant growth from the mid-1970s to the 1990s. During that time, enrollment grew from about 2,500 mostly male undergraduate students to nearly 11,000 undergraduate and graduate women and men. … The women won a national basketball championship in 1991. … It is named after Thomas Aquinas, the medieval Catholic theologian and philosopher who was the patron saint of students in the Roman Catholic Church. T.R. Knight, an actor known for a role on Grey's Anatomy, is a graduate of St. Thomas as well as Bob Short, late owner of the Washington Senators and Texas Rangers.


Warburg Knights

Official name: Wartburg College

Location: Waverly, Iowa

Enrollment: 1,500

Nickname: Knights

Colors: Orange and Black

Conference: Iowa Intercollegiate

Record: 21-7

Winning Streak: 2

Notes: Wartburg College is a four-year liberal arts college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The school has a Wartburg West campus in Denver. It was founded in 1852 in Saginaw, Michigan. The location of the college moved many times between Illinois and Iowa until permanently settling in Waverly in 1935. Don Denkinger, Major League Baseball umpire who missed the call at first base in the 1985 World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals, is a graduate. … The late Mark Holtz, voice of the Texas Rangers, was a member of the 1971 class.






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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.