Where: Sioux Falls Arena, Sioux Falls, S.D.
Radio: ESPN 1380-AM
Records: No. 3 seed IPFW 15-13, No. 6 seed Denver (7-22)
Expected starters for IPFW: Rachel Mauk – 5-10 senior guard; Haley Siebert – 5-5 junior guard; Amanda Hyde – 5-10 senior forward; Mur Hagerman – 5-10 junior guard; Rebecca Bruner – 6-0 junior forward.
IPFW update: Ignore the season records, IPFW is facing a big challenge in the Pioneers. The two teams split in their meetings this season, with the Mastodons winning 81-78 in Fort Wayne, yet losing 71-66 in Denver. In the victory, IPFW jumped out to a 13-point lead before “becoming complacent” according to IPFW coach Chris Paul. In that game, the Mastodons shot nearly 52 percent, while in the defeat, IPFW connected on just 38.1 percent of its shots. In the latter game, IPFW held an eight-point second half lead but went cold offensively late. But the story behind the story is that the Pioneers have dominated in the paint in terms of rebounding and scoring in both games. Such is the story of the Mastodons this season. IPFW leads the Summit League in 3-point shooting, free throw shooting, and ranks second in field goal percentage and scoring. Paul's team also features the two-time Summit League Player of the Year (Hyde), as well as another first team all-league selection (Siebert). However, the Mastodons are the worst defensive (field goal percentage allowed) and rebounding team in the Summit League. So shooting and pure talent have been able to overcome some weaknesses for this squad. In facing the Pioneers, IPFW doesn't match-up well with Denver forwards Theresa Wirth (seven boards per game) and Alison Janecek (6.4 rebounds per game). The Mastodons will need solid defensive games from its frontcourt Bruner, 5-11 freshman Arianna Simmons, Hyde, and perhaps 6-4 sophomore Danielle Wilmoth, who played 15 minutes against the Pioneers in the Mastodons' victory.
IPFW coach Chris Paul: “I think this is the best team that we've had that understands motion principles. They understand spacing. They understand where to be. Yeah, we shoot the ball well, but a lot of them are wide open because our spacing is so good. As soon as you come off of somebody, we've always got somebody in the corner or we always have somebody at the top and that makes it an easier shot when nobody is around to defend it.”