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Thomas More women will play downstate rival in opening round of NAIA national tournament

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

The Thomas More women’s basketball will continue its quest for a second consecutive NAIA championship on Tuesday when the Saints face downstate rival University of Cumberlands in the opening round of the 16-team national tournament.

Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at Tyson Event Center in Sioux City, Iowa. This is the third consecutive year Thomas More has made it to the national tournament in that city. The Saints lost in the 2021 championship game before winning last year’s title.

Thomas More senior guard Zoie Barth. (Photo from team website)

All of the first-round games in next week’s tournament will be video streamed live by the NAIA Network.

Thomas More enters the national tournament with a 28-3 record that includes two wins by double-digit margins over Cumberlands (24-7) in Mid-South Conference games.

Both teams earned national tournament berths by winning two games in different quadrant tournaments that were played last week. Campbellsville is another Mid-South member in the 16-team national bracket.

Thomas More’s top three scorers are senior guards Zoie Barth (14.2), Courtney Hurst (11.3) and Emily Simon (10.3). Barth is also the assist leader with 3.5 per game and Simon is averaging a team-high 6.7 rebounds. Hurst has made a team-high 86 3-point goals.

The other two starters for Thomas More are freshman forward Rylee Turner and junior guard Rachel Martin, who have combined averages of 11.4 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. Turner leads the team in blocks with 33.

In his 13 seasons as head coach, Jeff Hans has now led Thomas More to 11 national tournament berths. His teams won two NCAA Division III titles before making it to the last two NAIA national championship games. He has a 318-30 record as the Saints’ head coach for a 91.3 winning percentage.

This is the last year that Thomas More teams can compete for NAIA championships. The university begins the transfer process to NCAA Division II next school year.

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