Photo courtesy of Millikin Women’s Basketball team
Photo courtesy of Millikin Women’s Basketball team

Millikin Women Savor Underdog Role in Sweet Sixteen Game

March 11, 2022

No matter how much success they taste, Millikin’s Women’s basketball team remains hungry.

No matter how many games Millikin wins (The Big Blue are currently 23-6), accolades they receive (CCIW regular season champions), or records they break, the Big Blue are still doubted and overlooked.

“We are always the underdogs,” senior guard Jazmin Brown said. “We embrace that mindset though. We work harder and condition more than any other team. We know what we are capable of. Now, we just have to continue to prove it.”

Millikin won its first two games of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament and are cruising into the Sweet 16.

In the opening round of the NCAA Division, Millikin beat the Wartburg Knights 81-68.

The following night, in the second round of the tournament, the Big Blue faced the Wisconsin-Eau Claire Blugolds. The Blugolds were favored to win and playing on their home court which was erupting with cheers and boos from their huge fan section as well as continuous music from their large pep band. Despite their Underdog status, Millikin held on to win 59-56.

It was a short celebration for the women’s team as they prepared for their next opponent, the Hope College Flying Dutch, who are ranked No. 2 in the nation posting a record of 28-1.

Coach Olivia Lett was already in full scout mode watching film and talking with other coaches.

“You are already picked to lose,” Lett said. “No one thought you were going to beat Wartburg or Eau Claire. And again, no one thinks you have any chance of beating Hope or even staying in the game.

“Let’s use this to our advantage and go out there and prove everyone wrong.”

The Big Blue used this week to prepare to face the Flying Dutch. They watched many scouting clips and studied personnel. Practices focused on the different elements required to help put the Big Blue in the best position to win.

One of the biggest keys to winning the game is being able to break down their own defense offensively.

The Flying Dutch and the Big Blue have similar defensive strategies, which means they jump passing lanes, stay in ball denial, pressure the ball, and push players baseline.

If the Big Blue can beat its own defense, it has an even better chance of pulling out another win.

Bailey Coffman, a junior forward, is one of many Big Blue players who has dreamed of a moment like this.

“I’m excited because this is a chance to play one of the best teams in the nation,” Coffman said. “We get to play Hope on their home court, in front of a huge crowd, and in a championship atmosphere. What more can you ask for?”

Millikin’s plays Hope at 6 p.m. Friday. If the Big Blue win, they will play the winner of Scranton University (24-1) and New York University (27-2) at 4 p.m. Saturday.

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