Lewis & Clark heads to NCAA tournament

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Lewis & Clark women's basketball team earned its first ever trip to the NCAA Division III Women's Basketball Tournament on Monday. The Pioneers learned that they earned an at-large bid that will take them to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where they will face Howard Payne in the first round.

Lewis & Clark was the NWC co-champion with George Fox University, which also earned a spot in the tournament as the Northwest Conference's automatic qualifier. Occidental College, the champion of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, will be George Fox University's first-round opponent this Friday, March 4, colliding at Chapman University in Orange, Calif.

This is the first time ever that the NCAA has split two Northwest Conference women's basketball teams into separate brackets, which means the two will not have to face each other for a fourth time in the first and second rounds as has often happened in the past, but the trade-off is that the move probably cost one or the other a chance at hosting the regional.

Howard Payne (21-7) received the American Southwest Conference automatic tournament bid after winning the 2011 ASC Championship on Sunday with an 83-69 victory over Louisiana College.

Other team's in the Pioneers bracket include host Coe College (24-3) and Minnesota-Morris (21-6). Coe earned a spot in the tournament after coming from behind to defeat Simpson 59-56 on Saturday. The Kohawks won their first Iowa Conference Women's Basketball Tournament Championship in school history.

Minnesota-Morris earned their second consecutive trip to the national tournament with their UMAC Tournament Championship game win over Northwestern 84-72 on Saturday.

The regional title game will be Saturday, March 5, at 7:00 p.m., with the winner advancing to a four-team sectional site to be determined for Friday-Saturday, March 13-14. The "Final Four" is set for Friday-Saturday, March 18-19, at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Ill.

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