KOKOMO, Ind. — The Indiana University Kokomo women’s basketball team’s record-breaking season continues, as the Cougars play IU East for their first-ever conference title Tuesday. The team also qualified for the NAIA Division II national tournament for the first time.
“It means a lot to us that we get to make history for our campus, and continue to play in the post season,” said Carlee Cottrell, interim head coach. “That’s been our goal for the season, to make it this far. I’m proud we can continue on reaching those goals.”
She encouraged Cougar fans to attend Tuesday’s championship, set for tip off at 6 p.m. at IU East, in Richmond.
“We loved having the home crowd advantage for the first two games. With them cheering, it was loud. We need that energy for this game, against a tough opponent,” Cottrell said.
The River States Conference (RSC) West Division champions soundly defeated Ohio Christian University Saturday (February 25)77-48 in front of a home crowd to punch their ticket to the conference championship against the East Division champions.
The first half was close, but team leaders provided locker room encouragement at halftime, allowing the Cougars to win by nearly 30 points.
“Our team understands the energy they need to have, and the urgency they need to have on the floor,” Cottrell said. “Our leaders stepped up to remind them, and they came out with that hunger and urgency. It was a great half of basketball. It was encouraging for me as a coach to see that on the floor.”
With the semifinal game behind them, the Cougars (21-11, 14-6 RSC) turn their attention to the Red Wolves (27-5, 16-1 RSC), who are undefeated on their home court this season.
“They are a very good team, very well coached,” said Cottrell. “We can make it a very good game for them if we come out with the urgency we did Saturday. At this point in the season, it’s all about what your team knows how to do.”
It is meaningful for the team to play its championship game against another IU regional campus, she said.
“It’s exciting to see how the IU campuses are growing so quickly, and becoming successful,” Cottrell said. “I’m excited for both of our teams. It’s going to be a great game.”
They’re also anticipating the NAIA national tournament, which is March 8 to March 14 in Sioux City, Iowa. The Cougars qualify because IU Kokomo and IU East are both division champions, and conference rules award the second bid to the other division champion, if one division champion is also conference champion. They are among 32 teams in the playoffs.
“The girls are excited for this chance to continue playing,” Cottrell said. “It’s good for experience and recruiting. Qualifying for the nationals is a great way to showcase our program.”
The RSC championship game tips off at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the IU East Student Events and Activities Center, 2325 Chester Boulevard, Richmond.
IU Kokomo will offer a fan bus to the game for students, faculty, and staff. Fans must register in advance at the Cole Fitness Center for the limited seating. Concessions will be sold at the game, and admission is $5 each.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.