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History! Menís and womenís hoops earn spots in NAIA Nationals

Loyola press release - March 10, 2017

In the first time in Loyola history, both the men’s and women’s basketball teams have advanced to the NAIA National Championship Tournaments.

Entering the tournament as the No. 6 seed, the women's basketball team will square off against the No. 3 seed Montana State University-Northern in the opening round of the 2017 NAIA Division I Women's Basketball National Championship, presented by Wells Fargo.

The Wolf Pack (26-6) will take on No. 11 MSU-Northern (23-8) on Thursday, March 16, at 9:00 p.m. CDT at the Rimrock Auto Arena at Metrapark in Billings, Montana.

After recording a program-record 25 wins in the regular season, the Wolf Pack are heading the NAIA DI National Championship for the fourth-straight year. Under the tutelage of the 2017 Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) Head Coach of the Year Kellie Kennedy, Loyola has been to the national tournament eight times and carry a 2-7 record at the event. The Pack is currently ranked 22nd in the latest NAIA poll.

The Wolf Pack leads the country in total rebound offense (1502) while ranking third in defensive rebounds per game (30.625) and fourth in both total rebounds per game (46.938) and field goal percentage defense (0.334). Loyola's three SSAC First Team All-Conference selections in 2016-17 were the most by any team in the league and senior forward Meghan Temple (SR/Houston, Texas) headlined the group.

An absolute force for the Wolf Pack all season, Temple recently became the first Loyola women's basketball player (and just second in Wolf Pack basketball history) to record at least 1000 points and 1000 rebounds in a career. The Houston native heads to Billings ranked fifth in the NAIA with 4.2 offensive rebounds per game and ninth in total rebounds (297).

Coming out of the Frontier Conference, the Skylights are making its 14th appearance in the national tournament and head to Billings with a 10-13 record in the big dance. MSU-Northern won the NAIA Division II National Championship in 1993. The Skylights rank third in the NAIA in total rebound defense and fourth in scoring defense per game while featuring the Frontier Conference's leading scorer in Natalee Faupel (17.37 points per game).

On the men’s side, the No. 8 seed Loyola men's basketball team will face top-seeded William Penn in the opening round of the Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship on Wednesday. Loyola (22-9) will take on the No. 1 seed Statesman (30-3) inside the Duer Bracket on Wednesday at 8:15 p.m. CDT at the Municipal Auditorium-Gymnasium in Kansas City, Mo.

The Wolf Pack qualified for the tournament as an at-large team after landing at No. 29 in the final NAIA Men's Basketball Coaches' Poll.

Wednesday’s game will be the first appearance for Loyola in the NAIA DI National Championship since 1946, snapping the longest drought between tournament appearances by any of the 32 qualifiers in year's championship. The Wolf Pack's last appearance in a NAIA tournament was in 1995 when the team qualified for the Division II Championship.

Featuring the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) Defensive Player of the Year and First Team All-Conference honoree Johnny Griffin Jr. (SR/Chicago, IL.), the Wolf Pack's 22 victories this season are tied for the second most in program history tying a mark set in 1946.

Representing the Heart of America Athletic Conference, William Penn enters the postseason as the No. 2 team in the country and fresh off a tournament championship. Head coach John Henry and the Statesman head to Kansas City riding a 12-game winning streak and leading the country in both scoring and rebounding.

This will be the seventh appearance for William Penn in the NAIA National Championship and fifth in the last six years (8-6 all-time record).

Additional Championship Information

The NAIA Network – the association's official video streaming home – will broadcast all 30 games live leading up to the championship final on ESPN3. The video platform, powered by Stretch Internet, allows users access to live video, statistics, and social interaction on a number of devices, including mobile. Single day passes can be purchased for $9.95, while an all-tournament package is available at $29.95.

For all the latest Wolf Pack news, please see www.loyolawolfpack.com.