Women's Basketball Preview: Vanguard vs. John Brown

Vanguard University Pregame

Vs. John Brown of Arkansas

Friday at 6:45 p.m. PT

The Vanguard University women's basketball team continues its quest for the program's second national championship when it meets John Brown of Arkansas in the second round of the NAIA Tournament in Frankfurt, Ky. on Friday at 6:45 p.m. PT.

The Lions (27-1), ranked No. 1 in NAIA Division I all season, hammered Cal State San Marcos, 97-47, in the opening round on Thursday.

Coach Russ Davis, who has guided the Lions to 16 trips to the NAIA Tournament in his 18 seasons, including 13 in a row, won the program's lone NAIA crown in 2008. The Lions reached the Final Four in 2008, 2007, 2006 and 2003 and are 9-1 in second-round games at the NAIA Tournament.

Senior Nicole Ballestero continued to place her name atop this season's national player of the year candidates by scoring 38 in the first round, making seven of 10 three-point attempts. She now has 91 points in her last two games and is averaging 23.5 points per contest. The Golden State Athletic Conference Player of the Year, she was a first-team All-American as a junior.

Vanguard senior point guard Taylor Belmont and sophomore wing Samantha Doucette are both averaging 15.5 points per game, while Belmont leads NAIA Division I in assists (8.6 per outing).

John Brown, from the Sooner Athletic Conference, earned its inaugural NAIA Tournament win by defeating Lyon of Arkansas, 70-53, in Thursday's first round. It's the fourth NAIA Tournament appearance for the Golden Eagles, who have six players 6-foot or taller.

Sierra Shipley, a 5-9 senior, leads the team in scoring (16 per game) and rebounding (6.7 per contest). She had 11 points on Thursday, making just five of 15 field-goal tries.

Kortni Barenberg, a 6-0 senior, had 21 points and seven rebounds on Thursday. She averages 11.5 points per game.

Lauren Rogers, a 5-4 junior, had 19 points against Lyon, more than double her season average (9.2). The Golden Eagles shot 45% from three-point range in the first round (nine for 20).

Vanguard shot 52.4% from threedom in the opening round (11 for 21) and is outscoring opponents by an average of 28.4 points per game this season.

Friday's winner advances to Saturday's quarterfinal against either Texas-based Our Lady of the Lake (27-4) or Loyola of Louisiana (22-11) at 3 p.m. PT.

— Barry Faulkner

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