On Saturday, March 18th, the #2 Transylvania Pioneers Women’s Basketball team defeated the #4 Smith College Pioneers in the Final Four in Hartford, Connecticut, advancing to the National Championship game for the first time in program history. The Pioneers improve to a perfect 32-0 on the season and will play for the National Championship against #1 Christopher Newport on April 1st in Dallas, Texas.
Hosting the Sweet Sixteen in the Beck Center on March 10th, Transylvania faced off against the #16 Ohio Northern University Polar Bears. Unlike the back-and-forth contest against Milikin in the Second Round, this was a game firmly controlled on all levels by the Pioneers throughout. 5 three-pointers in the first quarter led to a 12-point lead after the first quarter that was never relinquished. A 17-0 run in the third quarter, as well as 25 points off of 20 Ohio Northern turnovers, would secure a Pioneer victory long before the final score of 67-43 was set. The Pioneers would play in the Elite Eight the next day, the round where the 2021-2022 team suffered their first and only loss of the season to Trine University. This year, the Pioneers would compete against the #6 New York University Violets for the right to advance to the final four for the first time in program history. The two teams went back and forth throughout the first quarter, with Transylvania taking a one-point lead after ten minutes. That lead was never relinquished, as the Pioneers would outscore the Violets 21-9 in the Second Quarter and have a lead as large as 20 points in the second half. Seniors Kennedi Stacy, Dasia Thornton, and Madison Kellione would each score 20 points en route to a 79-63 Transylvania victory.
One week later on March 18th, the Pioneers would play in their first final four game in program history against the #4 Smith College Pioneers, who boasted an impressive 30-1 record and a talented team that included WBCA National D3 Player of the Year Morgan Morrison. The final four was held at the Ray Oosting Gymnasium on the campus of Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. While the venue was chosen as a neutral site, the proximity of the arena to Smith College, with it being a 49-minute drive from the campus, turned the match into a de-facto road game for the Pioneers. The first quarter would be closely contested, with several lead changes and an eventual three-point lead for Smith College after 10 minutes. Transylvania would take the lead and begin to pull away in the latter half of the second quarter due to increased offense as well as foul trouble for Smith, culminating in a 57-42 lead for Transylvania after three quarters. Smith would begin a furious comeback attempt in the fourth quarter, cutting the lead to 69-64 with a jumper by Ally Yamada with a little over two minutes remaining. On the subsequent Transylvania possession, Senior and WBCA First Team D3 All-American Madison Kellione would make a three-pointer at the top of the key to bring the lead back up to eight. On their next possession, Transylvania would use most of the shot clock before Kellione would drive to the rim and draw a critical fifth foul on Morrison. Kellione would make both free throws to cement an eventual 76-65 win and national championship berth.
With this win, the Pioneers have advanced to the Division 3 National Championship game and improved their undefeated record to 32-0, by far the best mark in school history. Transylvania will face the #1 Christopher Newport Captains in the title game. The Captains are one of the few teams who have been ranked ahead of the Pioneers this season, as well as one of the few other teams that went undefeated in the regular season. The National Championship game will be held in the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas on April 1st at 12:00 P.M.