No breathing easy: Jimmies get 21-win Roosevelt in
Traditionally, No. 1 seeds in tournaments have a cupcake in their first-round game.
The University of Jamestown’s opening opponent — Roosevelt (Ill.) at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday in Sioux City, Iowa — has the following resume.
— 21 wins, three against ranked teams.
— Started the season 9-1 and on Dec. 3 was ranked No. 5 in NAIA Division II.
— Has a player (Casey Davis) averaging 21 points per game. The Lakers average 82 overall.
It all adds up to a challenging start for the 26-3 Jimmies.
“They’re not a typical team you’d see this early, but you kinda expect that at the national tournament,” UJ coach Greg Ulland said. “They’re really athletic and they’re talented. They were No. 5 in the country, that pretty much tells it all.”
The Jimmies have played against just about every style there is this season, but Ulland said the Lakers are unique.
“They penetrate like nobody we’ve played. They’re really aggressive going to the basket and how they penetrate constantly,” he said. “They’re not really like anybody else we’ve played this year.”
The Lakers do give up points, though. The Jimmies average almost 85 and Roosevelt gives up 71.
“Defensively we’re going to have to help as one because they’re going to attack,” Ulland said. “We’ve become a pretty good defensive team and we’ll be tested.”
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Seniors Hannah Steele, Carly Jensen and Morgan Mathison have been four-year staples in the Jimmie lineup.
Between the three, they’ve scored almost 3,000 points — Steele (1,352), Jensen (1,022), Mathison (560) — and are first, fourth and fifth on the team in scoring this season.
“They’ve been a huge part of this program the last four years and really been critical to the success we’ve had,” Ulland said. “The on-the-court stuff kind of speaks for itself, but they’re all really good kids. They’re fun to be around. You hate to think about this being the end, so hopefully it’s not for a while.”
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As a program, the Jimmies have yet to win a second round, or Sweet 16 game, at the national tournament. However, that doesn’t prevent them from thinking big. This year’s team all along has had one goal.
“The fact of the matter is that this group has been working since last March to get back here and their goal is to win it all. They’ve never wavered from that hope,” Ulland said. “We certainly understand how good every team is here and how well we need to play to put ourselves in position to contend, but we feel good about the way we’re playing and we’re hoping to stick around here for a while.”
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The Jimmies’ .897 winning percentage is the third-best in the field. Only No. 1 Saint Francis, Ind. (33-0) and No. 2 Davenport, Mich. (31-1) are better. Jamestown could potentially play Saint Francis in the Final 4 and Davenport in the title game.
The team left for Sioux City on Monday in advance of the tournament banquet on Tuesday night. They practiced Wednesday and watched some of the first-round action at the Tyson Events Center.
Fellow North Star Athletic Association member Mayville State plays its opener on Thursday against Cornerstone, Mich. (22-9) at 10:15 a.m. The 24-3 Comets are seeded No. 3 in Northwestern, Iowa’s pod.
Sun sports editor Dave Selvig can be reached at (701)
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