CRESTVIEW HILLS, Ky. - A third Final Four championship in four years.
That’s the prize the Thomas More College women’s basketball team is seeking this weekend in the NCAA Division III tournament in Rochester, Minnesota.
The 30-1 Saints, winners in 2015 and 2016, play last year’s champion, 31-0 Amherst, in a 6 p.m. Friday semifinal.
The Saints are on a 29-game winning streak led by senior guard Abby Owings from Simon Kenton High School and junior guard Madison Temple from Anderson High School.
Owings was named a Division III All-American this week by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. She averages 14.9 points per game while shooting 44.8 percent from the field and 45.4 percent from behind the arc.
Temple, the Player of the Year in the Presidents Athletic Conference, was named All-America honorable mention. She averages 18.1 points and 7.0 rebounds per game while shooting 56.6 percent from the field. Temple led the PAC in 3-point percentage (46.2), free-throw percentage (88.1), assists (5.4 pg) and assist/turnover ratio (2.9).
Senior Nikki Kiernan from NewCath, a three-year starter, averages 11.4 points per game and splits time at forward with sophomore Emily Schultz from Bishop Brossart (9.5 ppg) and junior Shelby Rupp from Batesville (6.7 ppg). Combined, they average 27.6 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. Freshman Hayden White from Milford (3.0 ppg) starts at center.
This is a balanced team in its second season without superstar Sydney Moss, the three-time Division III Player of the Year who led the Saints to their past Final Four victories and two undefeated seasons.
In 2016, the NCAA ordered Thomas More to vacate its 2015 national championship after ruling that Moss was ineligible for that season. The NCAA found that Moss received an illegal benefit because a part-time assistant coach and family friend allowed her to live with his family for eight months while she recovered from knee surgery.
At the time, Thomas More president David Armstrong said the penalty resulted from "the honest though mistaken belief" that the coach’s long-time, mentor-mentee relationship with Moss excluded their housing arrangement from being an NCAA violation.