Maggie Oimoen hoists the Midwest Conference Tournament plaque as she is surrounded by teammates and classmates.
Maggie Oimoen hoists the Midwest Conference Tournament plaque as she is surrounded by teammates and classmates.

   Four years after finishing a program-worst 2-21, the Ripon College women’s basketball team is headed to the NCAA Tournament.

   The Red Hawks clinched a berth to the big dance last week Saturday with a 55-48 win victory over Monmouth in the Midwest Conference Tournament Championship game.

   It marks their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2009, when they pulled off an upset over St. Norbert.

   Ripon (19-8 overall) will face No. 3-ranked St. Thomas (26-1 overall) Friday evening in a first-round match-up. The game will take place at St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., and tip off at 8 p.m.

   “It’s a testament to the people in our program that have stuck with everybody, stuck with us and bought into the culture and worked really hard,” Ripon head coach Lauren Busalacchi said of the turnaround the last four years. “This team is full of pretty good people and even from the beginning of the season when we were getting our butts kicked, they came in every day ready to learn, ready to work and ready to get a little bit better.”

   The Red Hawks won the Midwest Conference Tournament behind a strong defensive effort.

   They held Monmouth, which has the No. 2 scoring offense (67.1 ppg) in the conference and best field goal percentage (.435), to just the 48 points on 30-percent shooting (20 of 66) from the field.

Read the full story, which includes information on a come-from-behind victory over St. Norbert in the semifinals, in the Feb. 28, 2019 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.