Women’s basketball season ends with loss

Sophomore guard Ansley Eubank dodges an opposing player. UNA defeated West Florida Jan. 25 to help secure their NCAA Tournament invitation.

The UNA women’s basketball team ended their season with a 66-64 loss against Lee University in the first round of the NCAA South Region Women’s Basketball Tournament.

Ending with a 24-5 record, the Lions will not be able to return to another NCAA tournament for four years due to the move from Division II to Division I.

“It’s a huge accomplishment, quite an honor,” said head women’s basketball coach Missy Tiber. “It was a good game and both teams played hard.”

UNA placed as the No. 3 seed in the tournament out of the eight other teams and played against the No. 6 seed in the opening round. The eight teams selected from each region are determined via a bid system, with three being automatic bids and five being “at large” bids. UNA recieved a large bid and marked the seventh appearance for UNA in the regionals and first since the 2012-2013 season, according to Sports Information.

With only one player on the team graduating, the roster will not be shifting much. For them, this means most of their core players will remain.

Tiber said this would result in a strong foundation and the Lions will continue to improve.

Improvement is a goal for every athlete, but with a movement to a new division the Lions will have to bring their best.

Division I is a “higher level of competition and basketball,” Tiber said. Their opponents will be bigger, faster, stronger and used to that type of competition.

Without another tournament possibility, some athletes and fans may feel disheartened, but sophomore forward Brittany Panetti said she is anything but disappointed.

“As an athlete, you still want to win,” Panetti said. “Whether we can play an after-conference tournament or not, you still want to win. If we can go in there and come out first in conference, and that’s it, well, at least we came out first.”

These upcoming seasons will be some of the Lions’ toughest seasons to date, and they will have a lot to prove to other schools. While some people believe the transfer may be rough, with the mindset athletes like Panetti have, the Lions have a chance.